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Good Friday Or Black Monday?

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.

Date:Sunday August 19 2007
Time: 10:48AM


Am i naive but i want players who want to want to play for Villa and be proud not what West Ham are doing and asking how much they want. Give me Reo coker anyday ahead of a Upson.Neill,Bellamy,Dyer etc...
silkie villain
19/08/2007 11:28:00
Must admit I'm not totally sure that there is a ceiling on earnings, just depends on what player is available. Agree I'd not like us paying £70k a week to bring in the likes of Bellend but if we were paying that for a star (or more) then I'd be very happy. We do have to match wages to compete but don't think anyone has said that they won't as yet?
The Fear
19/08/2007 11:30:00
keep the faith.........
19/08/2007 11:50:00
The Fear - but it would be good to hear that there isn't a ceiling on wages and we will stand side-by-side the other Top4 Clubs if MON believes the player is worth it. I just feel that our wages structure was the reason that Gordon signed for Sunderland without even coming to Villa Park.
19/08/2007 12:15:00
Famous US coach said if you want a good team get good players, if you want a great team, get great players. Once again we are only guessing at reasons why things are happening, or not as the case may be, but this central fact seems to support Villacross main argument. Incidentally I understand that at least one premiership club tops up wages by paying off-shore too - hence the recent breakdown of a transfer in January because the other club would only pay UK based wages. . So you better believe it, money talks.
19/08/2007 12:35:00
imavillan - I'd love to but everything I seem to read and hear lately is that we still don't think and act like a Top4 Club, despite having a billionaire owner plus an excellent manager with a proven track record.
19/08/2007 13:04:00
You can't suddenly change the wage structure as we would need to buy several new players who would merit the pay. At the moment we haven't got anyone who is that good. If we did get a couple of high earners then the rest of the squad would want more wages and it would cause unrest. The team needs to be of an equal standard and this needs to be done gradually over a period of time.
19/08/2007 13:29:00
the 5 year plan.....
19/08/2007 18:08:00
Villan444 - I can see your point but what about if that top 22 year old Brazillian RB (can't remember his name) wants to play in the Prem. Both Newcastle and Spurs are interested but is asking for £60k/week. Spurs are unlikely to pay it but Newcastle will. Should we go for him or is it too soon?
19/08/2007 18:20:00
I think you will find that many clubs incl some of the "top4" are living on the edge of financial disaster. Manure have increased their season ticket prices to such an extent that the once ridiculously long waiting list to secure a seat at Old Trafford is now non existent. I too want top players and a large part of me wants it to be with a money no object philosophy. However I also do not want to see The Mighty Aston Villa Football Club go the same way as Leeds Utd.
Adam Deuce
19/08/2007 20:29:00
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