Date: 22nd July 2011 at 5:22pm
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No reasonable offer refused

No reasonable offer refused!

At last a decent football week to rejoice in, for a change, and even if the Villa gloom didn’t actually go into reverse, at least it didn’t get any worse. Villa got through a whole week without selling anyone and rumours that Sid’s Cafe had put in a bid for one of the ladies who do the catering at Bodymoor Heath, proved unfounded.

And yes, Villa actually signed a player and money will change hands.

Although some might suggest that the signing of Shay Given is a betrayal of Villa’s much vaunted faith-in-youth policy, there is little doubt that he comes with a big reputation, and is so good that his parents seem to have named him twice, if Wiki is to be believed.

Henceforth I shall always think of Séamus John James Given as Jim-Jim, because I seem to recall that Séamus is Irish for James, so in effect he’s James John James Given.

No doubt, his Mother calls him Eric.

Let’s hope he is at least as good as Brad Friedel because I suspect, he will be kept busy.

Meanwhile, the sale of Carlos Cuellar has been delayed until the Villa fans have stopped bleeding, and even the wag who altered Carlos’s Wiki entry, changed him back to a Villa player out of sympathy. No doubt the deal will go ahead once the fans have been distracted by another signing, should N’Zogbia’s reported industrial action prove successful. In short, we’ll swap one Charlie for another.

It seems unlikely that Randy Lerner will be selling anyone else of any significance because apart from Darren Bent, there is no one significant left, although selling Dunne or Collins would really make for an interesting season.

Further asset-stripping by the Villa owner is in danger of creating the rather embarrassing scenario where the transport he uses to visit Villa, his Dassault Falcon 900EX (N85CL – Google to see this beauty)at $40m, would be worth more than the business he’s visiting. So it would begin to look as incongruous, as parking a Rolls-Royce outside a council house.

How shameful would that be – all hat and no cattle, as the Americans like to say.

Unsurprisingly, there are still many Villa fans who believe that the present squad, with or without Cuellar, is more than capable of qualifying for Europe and winning both the domestic cups. This kind of bears out the theory that sport is really about laundry, and that it doesn’t matter who is in the shirt, as its the shirt that is cheered and not the person wearing it.

That would account for the fact that as soon as some guy stops wearing the shirt, he automatically becomes rubbish. The rest of us can’t help noticing that a lot of clubs have won an awful lot of trophies with teams full of ex-Villa rubbish, over the years.

But even the self-appointed rationalists (Moi!) are only half rational,because we struggle to see that selling the high-earning players is a perfectly rational act, no matter how upsetting it may be.

Villa’s turnover was £91m for 2010, of which only £24m was earned through gate receipts (TV £52m, Commercial £14m), or just 26% of turnover. But to get this the club had to invest £84m in players, while paying out £80m a year on wages. That seems a hell of a big investment and surely rationally, the club could risk reducing the crowds by half and only lose 13% of their income. It is undoubtedly the rational thing to do because these days, nearly 60% of the club’s income comes from television.

Who needs crowds?

If Villa comply with the UEFA’s financial fair play rules they need to reduce the wage bill to 70% of turnover (£91), which is £63.7m from the present £80m. This amounts to a reduction of around £16 but the club actually made a loss of £38m, so to break even, wages need to be cut to

52m, which is about the same as Everton or West Ham. To break even Villa’s wages need to be reduced by 35%.

Villa’s £40 million surplus from transfers suggest that the owner is aiming to transform Villa from a substantially loss-making club (£46m & £38m the last two years) to one that at least breaks even, rather than aiming for compliance with the financial fair play rules. By all indications he is intent on taking the wage bill back to the £50m it was in 2008.

So at this stage it can be seen that Alex McLeish is the perfect manager for the Villa job – he won the SPL at Rangers when they were brassic and won a cup at Blues, with a squad of borrowed players. Doing something at Villa with a mix of a few big earners, a number of middle earners, and Academy graduates, looks likely to be his remit.

Cutting the wage bill by 35%, is bound to leave blood on the carpet.

Villa have the 7th highest turnover in the Premiership and the 7th highest attendances, so as things stand we must decide whether Villa have the 7th best squad in the Premiership.

Making such a claim seems impossible, even if the shirts themselves are as impressive as ever.

There’s little doubt that when presented with the sums and the facts of the massive annual losses, the present course makes some kind of sense, even if the timetable looks rather precipitous.

The biggest gripe is about the fact that no one has ever told us there was a change of plan, and that Villa’s management hid behind the assumption, which they promulgated, that Martin O’Neill left for no other reason than a fit of pique.

The selling of £87m worth of players in three years (no fee for Sidwellincluded), now tells us otherwise.

Gladly, despite all these desperate conclusions about Villa, something special happened which made my week. Japan won the Women’s World Cup, and it was as brilliant and as emotionally satisfying as any game I have seen, not featuring the Villa.

It was a game of unlikely miracles and a wonderful demonstration of mental strength and technical ability by the Japanese women, as they delighted the eye with some remarkable one-touch play and refused to be daunted by being behind.

It was the crowning glory to a brilliant tournament when the Women’s game came of age.

No one expected the Japanese to have a chance against the American Amazons, with their powerful high-tempo game, but every time the American gals took the lead, the diminutive Japanese came back again.

And then, miracle upon miracles, the team I really wanted to win, won on penalties, which is virtually unknown in my England experiences.

A fantastic game and a very pleasing result but ultimately far more significant than has generally been acknowledged.

This was a breakthrough tournament for the women’s game, as Japan became the first team to win a major competition through technical excellence, rather than the power and athleticism, which has dominated the world game since the first Fifa Women’s World Cup in 1991. An era where the Germans and the Americans have mostly prevailed.

Although the rules favour the physically more powerful, Japan’s victory proves that you don’t have to be an Amazon to excel at the game.

As Homare Sawa took both the golden boot as top scorer, and the golden ball for the best player of the tournament, all doubts about the potential of the women’s game, were swept aside, and once again I believed that football dreams can come true.

But obviously not at the Villa.

Keep the faith!


2 Replies to “Something For The Weekend (341)”

  • but we all knew that MON left because of disagreements over players’ wages! A bit of needless Randy bashing here I feel.

  • As a former player and now accountant i enjoyed this article, cant really see any Randy bashing though VillaLloyd?!

    slightly confused with the transition of Villas finance situation to the skirts playing in Japan though

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