Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday March 9 2006
Following the comments by David O'Leary recently, I admitted that I couldn't argue with much of what he said but that if O'Leary says we budgeted for the top ten, why aren't we in the top ten?
Jeff Ray answered:
I'm going to jump on the bandwagon here and agree with most of what he says as well. We are simply not a club with (available) financial resources to compete for Champions League Football. Top ten . . . well, to be honest, all that means to me is that we're not going to compete for much of anything but we're not in any real fear of relegation.
As for this season, Fear makes a good point. My only real counter is that with the takeover talks up in the air, it has been a rather unsettled year, perhaps that contributes to our lacklustre performances. We are six points out of tenth place and we are co league leaders in draws this season. A couple of lucky bounces and perhaps we are there.
Let me pose a different question though. What is the raison d'etre for a top ten club? When the season starts, what do we tell the players the goal is? What do we tell the shareholders the long term plan for the PLC is? As I said above, a top ten club to me means not going to go to Europe, not going to get relegated, and while a cup run is possible, it is likely to fail when one of the top clubs gets drawn. So, ultimately, what is the point? Is it to serve as a platform for a merchandising campaign? If so, that's a pretty sorry campaign - wear our gear, we're mediocre! Is it to turn a modest profit? What is the point?
This is, to me, the fundamental question facing Aston Villa. Yes, we are a top ten club budget wise. And, as far as I can see, the manager, no matter who he may be, is going to change that. But what is the long term plan? What is the long term goal? Because 'top ten club' is another way of saying 'we make up two of the games each season that the contenders and relegations clubs must play'. And I don't really want to be a makeweight. But, from what O'Leary said, our budget is basically set up to ensure that each year we will play 38 games of premiership football AND NOTHING MORE. And this is an issue that faces a number of clubs today. Really, who has the finances to seriously compete in the Champions League? Maybe three or four teams? Who has the money to compete to be in the first knockout stage? Maybe another two? For the rest, life is all about 38 games of Premiership football each season.
With thanks to Jeff Ray
Date:Thursday March 9 2006
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