Writer: Mike Field
Date:Sunday February 2 2014
There have been submissions tonight on both the front end article comments and on our forum, that have suggested owner Randy Lerner may be ready to sell his stake in Aston Villa.
For some who appreciate after previous excesses we had to reign in our spending and get our year on year losses under control, especially in light of the European wide Financial Fair Play regulations, let alone the Premierships own newly formulated financial regulations that Villa actually as a club was in a minority for as we voted against them, this news may cause some concern.
Especially as obviously we can look at other 'owners' within football that rightly give rise to a sense of tentative is a better the devil you know situation.
We don't have to look far recently, Cardiff City, Hull City, even on deadline day Leeds United given the problems they have had over a number of years that saw them successfully relegated following impressive European campaigns. We can also look at Portsmouth's fall...some fans will clearly have reticence at this news should it prove to be true.
But a belief of better the devil you know, doesn't instantly equate to a real belief of fear as we move on as a club.
I'm tagged permanently as a pro Randy supporter given what he put into the club, and despite joining us saying we would never actually do a mini Chelsea, he always wanted us to be self sustaining, and operate on an even keel where his wealth would be a bonus at key points in a transfer window as opposed to something we should naturally rely on, that vision was lost sight of when we did get so close in Martin O'Neill's second season and we did spend beyond our means in the hope of attaining the Champions League.
And we continued spending beyond our means in subsequent seasons to try and bridge the gap that saw us lose fourth place and accept sixth as success, whilst we then didn't even treat Europe seriously - let alone the domestic cups that would've had a positive effect on our finances.
It brings us to the recent present and changes in football that we as a club didn't agree with and voted against, but have to abide by now.
I'm not going to turn this into whether Gerard Houllier should've spent better or done better, or even if he should've been moved upstairs to help Gary McAllister who did oversee a positive return in our results. I'm not even going to discuss his sacking based, from what I can tell, on a very well held fan anger over his Liverpool comments - because if that really played a part then why in the name of living God did we appoint a manager who saw protests outside of our gorgeous Villa Park gates?
That also allows me to skip Alex McLeish - ahhhh Macbeth I said it!!!!
I also won't turn this into my well stated views on Paul Lambert and whether he should've spent better and been able to get the team to pass the ball successfully over five yards in the previous now 19 months.
But it would be remiss of me to not reference fans who might be concerned about this news, and not also mention the fans who will be delighted.
On the other side of the equasion we have those fans who brought into 'actions speak louder than words' and for the first few seasons they did, even if the football wasn't particularly brilliant when we focused on results under O'Neill - we did obviously have the 6,6,6 achievement and history gets glossed by in the final season we actually took the cups seriously - even though not Europe.
Not taking Europe seriously or the domestic cups, especially given the entertainment value, many expressed concern.
But Lerner put money where his mouth was, and left the manager to it.
Since that period, as many fans don't give a flying FFP about off pitch matters, we have done nothing but go backwards since then. The owner may still be leaving the manager to it, but actions are definitely speaking louder than words at the moment.
Successive relegations battles, a lack of investment, game play under our new manager and his direction to buy young and hungry cheap players in the main, that still aren't the talents we should be looking for from levels, all come back to the aspirations and ambition of the board.
No fan should be berated for that belief that it's not a top down policy where survival as opposed to competitiveness is now the order of the day.
And no fan, should be berated for thinking and believing the club could be enthused by new ownership. We don't have to look at the scare stories to panic. There are plenty of success stories also.
What has dogged our tenure, under who I believe having never met the man, is a very genuine owner who wanted the best for us, is the fact that he is such a private man. Other private owners have a much better PR department to make up for that - and I've never hid my amazement at our long standing media relations (do I need to reference the recent hiccup?) - and especially for us following on from 'Mr Aston Villa' it's been a huge culture shock that worked when we were doing well, but categorically doesn't at times like this.
Whether this rumour as produced by The Sun turns out to be true or not, fans need something to believe in again.
Fans need to at least believe we aren't just going to aim for survival. We are better than that, and whilst we don't have any right to challenge the top spots - and I don't think many do - we damn well demand more than the crap we have seen in recent years.
That is not a sole owner issue, but Villa Park needs reinvigorating by something. I believe Randy was over for Arsenal, but he missed Prince William's visit, and if actions do speak louder than words - most fans couldn't care less about anything that goes on off the pitch - and it's on the pitch that actions count and we aren't talking.
The fact we have some, maybe jokingly, asking for Doug back because at least he attends is a damning indictment.
And it's something neither Lerner nor the club have ever learnt, despite being told.
As for the link, and yes it comes from The Sun so you can well just wrap your chips up in it or use as substitute toilet paper, they say we are now up for sale for £200million - which is at least in the ballpark figure of Lerner breaking even.
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Date:Sunday February 2 2014
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