Surprise, surprise – baptism by fire!
Surprise, surprise – baptism by fire!
I am not sure whether there are any players out there called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego but if Randy Lerner wanted to send an unequivocal message to the fans, about his master-plan, I am sure he would have signed them in yesterday’s transfer window.
With all the world and a dog called Robbie, telling us that Lambert’s team of promising and unpromising youngsters desperately need some experienced players around them to steady the ship, it was a big surprise for most fans, to find that Villa were intent on doing the exact opposite.
It seems that Lerner has refused to bow down to the golden idol of the Premiership and is about to test the fans’ faith, by setting before them the prospect of the fiery flames of the Championship.
Whether Villa can be pulled from the flames by the god of good housekeeping and financial prudence, we will have to see, but even the most resolute of the faithful can’t help feeling an all-consuming dread of self-inflicted relegation’s moronic inferno.
Back in the good old days of the 1970’s the mantra amongst the Lefties, as the industry around Villa Park was being dismantled, was, ‘Don’t trust Capital’ and it seems another generation have had to learn the same lesson, that the good things we have learnt to take for granted, only exist at the behest and the whim of the capitalist. And it seems that the good-times we have enjoyed at Villa only a few years ago were entirely down to a passing caprice of such a beast, and that capitalist has since changed his mind.
We can’t say we weren’t warned.
When we heard Doug was selling the club in 2006, everyone was warning of the danger of ending up with the type of owner, who would come in, spend a lot of money in a PR stunt, and then, when the novelty had worn off, lose interest and leave the club in trouble. By all indications Randy has lost interest and although relegation will not be a certain disaster it certainly amounts to trouble.
But you can’t blame the fans for dreading the worst.
Every Villa fan has their own personal version of a disaster scenario, which results from Villa getting relegated, which just has to include Villa failing to get promoted within the time-span of the parachute payments, which sets the club financially adrift from the Premiership, where even the club coming last gets £60m.
My own miserable version has Villa’s wage bill capped by financial regulation.
One proposal for that regulation is to limit a club to increasing its wage bill by no more than 5% a year, which means even if they eventually got promoted and are in receipt of Premiership riches, they could not spend their newly acquired wealth, which would trap them into being a permanent yo-yo club.
This unleashes a whole new can of worms as regards ownership of a yo-yo football club.
It is not hard to imagine what sort of an owner such a club would attract, if there was £30m a year a club was not allowed to spend. Suddenly, owning a club would hold out the prospect of earning substantial profits. The value of clubs would increase, and it would make the prospect of a leveraged buy-out a very viable prospect for any syndicate of profit-motivated venture capitalists.
Obviously, the cap on annual increases in wage bills is only a proposal but the fact that it has been suggested at all, as an alternative to UEFA’s suggestion that wages should be no more than 70% of a club’s turnover, suggests that someone thinks there is merit in it.
It would certainly allow the big over-spending clubs an easier transition into compliance with financial fair-play rules, which would avoid damaging the Premiership’s global product, while seeming to protect smaller clubs from bankruptcy, which was always the subterfuge.
This is just my own dreaded scenario and that is all but I am absolutely certain that every fan will have their own.
There is certainly a lot to be said for Villa becoming a club which runs by the proper rules of business and there are not many fans who are not sick of the tyrannical power which massively over-paid, very ordinary players, have over clubs these days but no one can deny that the potential costs of tackling that iniquitous situation, are just too massive to contemplate with even a minimum of sang froid.
And this is where communication comes in. It is futile to hope that every Villa fan would be reconciled to making this sacrifice, if they were told what the aims of the club are, but at least Randy Lerner could feel satisfied that he’d done the right thing. Whether he thinks the fans deserve such a courtesy, we are in no position to know, but even lip-service is better than no service at all and Villa’s loyal customers know at least one person working at Villa, with ‘Relationship Manager’ on their CV, and surely the club’s relationship with its customers is worth cultivating.
In the meantime, we welcome Villa’s new signing to the club, wish him the best of luck, and truly hope that he can make enough difference to bridge the small gap between failure and success. A very big ask I know, but we live in hope.
Keep the faith!