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Good Friday Or Black Monday?

Article submitted by VillaCross:

I had my worst fears confirmed last week. I read that Cap'n Barry has been awarded a bumper pay rise to 45,000 / week or just over 2million a year. This presumably must therefore be the ceiling on player's wages in our club’s “Five-Year Plan”. I’m not sure how the fans have taken this news. Some will think well-done Gareth; you’re worth every penny of it. Many will say 2million+ pa is more than any footballer is worth. That’s more than the whole squad earned in the year when we were “Kings of Europe”, 25 years ago.

However, times have moved on since then. We now have Sky TV and foreign managers at the Top4 Clubs (sorry 3 foreigners plus 1 Scot). The average annual football staff wages for these same Top4 Clubs, over the 2 seasons to May 2005 was 73.6 million, At Aston Villa under HDE it was 30.3million. So with this recent news that the ceiling is now just over 2million pa with an average wage for all the senior squad of certainly no more than 1.5million pa, the current annual figure will be probably be less than the 30.3million spend under HDE.

Maybe Martin O'Neill can “walk on water” and will be able to achieve success with the smallest senior squad ever seen at Villa Park. Or perhaps his mystic powers will be able to convince players to ignore the “lucre” and come to us for the joy of adulation from us Villa fans.

But coming back to reality, to achieve and sustain real success at Villa Park again, we must be at the forefront in all aspects of today’s modern soccer industry. That means we must pay the market rate to attract “top-class” staff, whether business executives, IT staff, marketeers or footballers and their support staff. The new commercial and operational management teams appear to be doing their part. We can see massive improvements almost everywhere except in one, which in reality, is the one we are now most concerned about - the size and the quality of the senior squad!

We have been told by the CEO, Richard Fitzgerald - “Martin O’Neill’s ambitious plans are fully supported”; he also said “I expect to see big-name signings”. I therefore assumed that the association between “ambition” and “big-name signings”, was that at last, our beloved Club, within the much publicised 5-Year Plan is prepared to carry a football staff wages bill of at least 60million pa with a range up to at least 70-80,000 per week, even if only for a few of the senior players.

Apparently, this is definitely not the case, so forget about 'big-name signings' at Aston Villa. Also, forget about a “bright future” and the “big-nights” and excitement of European competition again. We must continue to look forward to scrambling to finish near the top-half of the Premiership. Lucrative pay structures and success in football today go together like “peaches and cream”, or should I say like “Rooney and Ronaldo”? The Top4 Clubs have consistently proven this every season over the last decade, without any doubt whatsoever.

As I finish this post, I am thinking about both Tony Blair and his “hand on the shoulder of history” speech after his success in finalising the “Good Friday” peace agreement in Northern Ireland. I am also seeing Norman Lamont, standing outside No11 Downing Street on “Black Monday”, admitting, but not apologising, for failing to beat the world’s financial markets by trying to “prop-up” sterling against the ERM; which was followed by near perilous financial consequences.

Twelve months ago I was excitedly looking forward to a future of “Good Fridays” under a billionaire owner and the brilliant Martin O’Neill; but alas, one year on and I cannot see such a rosy future. All I can now see is a series of “Black Mondays” with Failure…. Failure…. and more Failure. A replication of what we’ve endured for the past two decades and more.

On behalf of tens of thousands of fans both here in the UK and in all corners of the world, I make a single and humble request to Randy Lerner – repudiate my assertions that our pay structure is a barrier to attracting “top-class” signings of International calibre. Alternatively and better still, prove my assertions unfounded by ensuring that at least one such “top-class” signing is made within the next two weeks.

Otherwise, if neither of these two options are executed by Mr Lerner, this period in Villa’s proud history will be remembered as a “Black Monday”, from which those ultimately responsible for this short sighted, miserly pay policy will pay the price of failure. I then hope that those remaining will adopt the same successful strategies pursued by the current Top4 Clubs. Maybe then, we will have a bright future as well as a proud history.

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The Journalist

Writer: VillaCross Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday August 19 2007

Time: 10:48AM


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