Can Sustainability Be Sustained?!
But Randy Lerner had sustainability in mind when he pulled the trigger some four years ago to send Villa shooting for an austerity drive. But from that point it was the only kind of shooting we saw: play has mostly been a yawn since then, and we've said that pretty often on this blog. And I sent a letter to Randy in May encapsulating that as the main objection to his reign at Villa Park while praising him in other respects, countersigned by nearly 100 brave people. The club acknowledged the letter as 'noted' though I doubt Randy himself read the letter.
What has happened now is that the doors have been shut on me down at the Villa store and the club refuse to answer my e-mails. Not totally unexpectedly some might say but, in other words, Villa are no longer going to sell my books. Now this is a pity as over the last two years the club has sold 274 copies of my main book The First Superclub - out of a total of nearly 600 sold - and has thus earned £3,000 gross profit on those sales. Not that such a sum is what keeps the club going, but it's about equivalent to the income from five season tickets. When you add the fact that my website has also induced overseas Villa supporters to order other stuff from Villa Park and not just my books, then I see Villa's action against me as doing nothing more than spiting their own nose.
Another function of my books, of course, (and one that is at least equally important) is in promoting the image of the club. The fans tell me as such - so again the club is working against itself. Is there anyone else who has researched the club as extensively as myself? It would seem not, as my time at the British Library unveiled far more than can be found locally, apart from statistics. Finds included the identification of the true founders of the club.
I don't pretend to be the only capable Villa historian, but I suggest that I have done enough to warrant better consideration by the club.
But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the club's action. They wanted me there as Club Historian after 12 months working at VP on contract and then chose to sack me early in 2010 over a comparatively trivial issue, just at the time that Paul Faulkner was making his mark: he was appointed CEO at the end of that season.
I've always thought it highly strange that after being involved in advanced talks about creating a museum in late 2009 it was so soon followed by my sacking. In the light of that it's not too strange that a museum has never seen the light of day, in any permanent or semi-permanent form. Sadly in some ways, I convincingly won my case in the employment tribunal with the club since finding ways to be petulant, including the act of refusing to let me attend Villa Park to participate in a BBC TV item last year. This was despite the fact that they admitted I was the most expert on the topic at hand.
So much for having supported (and loved) the club for over 60 years as a third-generation supporter.
But coming back to the topic of sustainability, the club may be under new ownership before too long and I am also taking off in a new direction. My lifelong deep interest in history of all kinds is next month going to be enhanced by my doing an advanced course through Oxford University. When that is over (in 12 months) I will then be looking at other fields of history in which to work and I fancy that will be going further into the realm of political/spiritual studies, a subject area that is also close to my heart. Having now passed 70 y.o.a. I still possess some sense of life after Aston Villa!
I will soon have far less time to devote to Aston Villa matters. Nevertheless, I have just now published another (yet small) book entitled Aston Villa In A Nutshell. It's only £7, with discounts for multiple purchases. Please see: www.lerwill-life.org.uk/astonvilla/nutshell
It's a very handy jacket-pocket size and it is lightweight: light enough to take to the match! It celebrates the 140th birthday of the club.
As the club are not going to be selling this book, I would be very grateful for your support through my webpage. Soccer Books are also selling it.
But whatever the club's management do to me, I still say UTV!