Monday 11 April 2016


A couple of weeks ago, I paid some attention to Aston Villa fans with their Lerner out banners and made a few jokes about how similar their booing and demonstrations were to Arsenal fans. I mean Arsenal are only 3rd in a league race they were ‘ORDAINED’ to win hands down. It is not like many of these moaning Arsenal fans, the jeering fans of other clubs (Man U, Liverpool and Chelsea fans I am looking at you) and the pundits gave Arsenal any chance at the beginning of the season. No they didn’t. As usual, hindsight is fantastic vision. But please quit the ‘I told you so’. You did not ‘TOLD’ anything.

It is interesting to note that the only fans not booing are Leicester fans and probably Spurs fans. The latter certainly delighted to be above Arsenal and in the Champions League spot at the same time. Its like they are the adopted son of a very rich man whose birthday falls on Christmas day and the rich man is determined to spoil the kid rotten.

The fact that only Leicester fans are happy with their season just goes to emphasize the fact that winning is the only thing that matters now. If you are not winning, you are rubbish, the manager should be sacked and the owner should invest more money. It doesn’t matter that Leicester is now 132nd year in existence as a club and they have never won the league and have been relegated at least twice and that it took something exceptional for them to escape relegation last season. Also the most expensive player in the Leicester squad cost £7m, which is less than 50% of Wayne Rooney’s salary. And their current manager’s trophy cabinet is bare. But never mind.

Fans are definitely not interested in these facts. Fans who will turn their noses at a Riyad Mahrez signing or Jamie Vardy signing a season ago are suddenly wiser to the fact that their club’s transfer strategies is wrong. HINDSIGHT = GREAT VISION       

This sort of dovetails to a few comments about football club ownership. I am beginning to think it is a mug game. On the surface, Randy Lerner is no mug and neither is Roman Abramovich or the Emirs in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. But if you think that Roman and the Emirs have jointly donated in excess of £3b to their football project in the last few years and Roman especially has handed over close to £25m to one individual just for the pleasure of repeating the Sir Alan Sugar’s popular TV phrase, you then must wonder if truly he is no mug.  Very ironic when you realise that the overlords of Manchester United bought the club for nothing and have taken out in excess of £1b. I pray that tap never runs dry so they can continue to expend £250m every season to aspire for 5th place. Maybe the Manchester United fans are the mugs.

Back to Randy Lerner. When he bought Villa in 2006, he was a billionaire and had aspirations for greater things for the club and dare I guess for his personal life too. They made a couple of attempts to crack the champions’ league holy grail but failed. Unfortunately for him, he suffered catastrophic losses in the global financial crisis and a fortune draining divorce. Plus the man has lost over £250m since buying Villa for a price just short of £70m. He has unfortunately left the billionaire’s club and lost his wife and if his divorce is anything like we see in the papers and on TV, his relationship with his kids and lifelong friends has probably been impacted. Do we care? Do Villa fans care?

Not a jot. “Lerner Out”. Next mug come and buy us” is the Universal refrain. It doesn’t matter that Mr. Lerner has been trying to sell Villa for at least 3 seasons without a serious buyer.  The last report of a buyer in sight was a consortium led by Arsenal’s very own Tony Adams. Good luck. But still……..

“Lerner Out” I can only smile and ask but who wants to buy? By all means, ask for Lerner to go but outline the alternatives and if there are no alternatives, I will suggest your protests should be a bit muted.

I’m not quite sure the average punter / fan of a football club including Aston Villa understand the fact that the traditional football ownership structure is gone forever. Fans / communities don’t own the clubs anymore. Yes you are great for the atmosphere in the stadium but you can easily be replaced by the clubs throwing the gates open to all comers for free as TV money can effectively replace gate takings. In addition the big money required to run even the smallest football club suggests that the fan ownership model is busted.

Perhaps a lesson to Arsenal fans as well with the chants of Kroenke out. Although the Kroenke chants appeared to have petered out when Alisher Usmanov sort of poured water on them by effectively letting fans know that he sees Arsenal football club as a business in addition to a football club. Sad to note that fans don’t like that with many going on record that they will rather win trophies one season and risk the club going bankrupt. All well and good for us fans with our trophy winning memories / pictures etc. but Mr. Muggy the club owner still has to deal with his bank manager the day after the trophy win and explain why that overdraft should not be pulled.

Yes, it is not all about money as Leicester are appearing to prove. But the fact that it has never happened before in the history of football suggests to me it will be a one off. We shall see next season. To extend Leicester’s success as a stick to beat Arsene Wenger and Arsenal is wrong in my opinion. Arsenal have a football and business model. Yes fans want more (who doesn’t really) but the club has decided that its desire for glory will be balanced with financial sustainability. I think fans genuinely need to buy into this project. If you re not willing to, there is a choice and given the options at the moment, I think that choice is ‘NOT KROENKE OUT’. I don’t blame Mr. Kroenke for wanting to keep his billionaire status.

No comments:

Post a Comment