Date:Tuesday February 5 2008
Aston Villa is a Business after all
Remember Villa fans, Aston Villa is still a business, especially for Randolph Lerner
Yes Lerner has done a few things Doug Ellis wouldn't but he still sees Villa as a business and has done much to improve its value as a saleable item.
In fact it could be construed that cutting all the staff, including players, to the barest bones has been an astute management ploy, even the highly paid CEO has gone. He bought the club at a discount , immediately improved the training facilities, and has done all that is required to achieve stability on the field
This allied to better PR has improved Villa's 'image' which helps in improving the brand. His next step is to negotiate a better sponsorship deal, and while he waits he's sold enough of a dream, ably helped by Martin O'Neill's success, to improve gates beyond those of Ellis' wildest dreams.
In theory he's done all he needs for now until the sponsorship deal is finalised, he has no need to push the club on to Europe. He knows that a European League qualification will mean a much larger and sustained investment in players, more back room staff, bigger expenses, ie a huge increase in costs.
He's no fool and although he may proffer the image of loving England, football and everything Villa, in reality Villa remains a business, one where he knows already, if he sold it tomorrow, he'd get maybe 1.5-2 times what he paid for it and that in the next decade its hardly likely to lose much if any of its present value.
He's not under financial pressure from borrowings to maximise his investment, like some, all he needs is for a continued improvement with no major catastrophes
Remember Villa had under Ellis a reputation as a financially sound club just able to maintain their PL status, often flirting with Europe, never sustaining a top half finish.
Atkinson, Little,Gregory, even O'Leary flirted with Cup finishes, Europe etc, but were never able to achieve consistency, it was always boom or bust.
Lerner's only need is to produce a stable, viable club, and to do that a EL finish is too disrupting a factor,even a European qualification may just be too early as he sees it.
For now costs are under control and not excessive, gates are up, so accessory sales are up, the majority of fans are happy, the inherent value of his investment has increased, probably dramatically, so we have one happy owner and thank God for him.
Why risk it all by spending on higher value players, why stop players like Mellberg, Barry moving on to bigger more ambitious clubs, if retaining them moves the balance to a higher risk area.
What is the point especially in the January window of spending on high value players, unlike last season when there was a small risk of a relegation battle this year there is no need
Any finish above 10th will keep most happy.
It suits O'Neill, I fear he doesn't want the hassle yet, he's not prepared for it, he gives no impression of wanting bigger value players, especially International class potential stars, or even big name UK born players.
It most certainly suits Lerner, despite any protestations he or those associated to him might say to the contrary. Remember first and foremost Lerner is a businessman and Aston Villa is an investment.
I'm thankful he chose us, I wish him well, I admire his methods, but I appreciate his position too, although as a born and bred Villa fan I don't have to like it.
Date:Tuesday February 5 2008
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