Since the football season finished things have gone madder than Ian Holloway at a press conference; transfer gossip is in overdrive, gagging order scandal and now splits between supporters of the same club following the appointment of Alex McLeish at Villa.
Fans’ being unhappy with their board is not uncommon and has been going on for a long time; generally business and football don’t mix at any level. Villa fans are not too happy with Randy Lerner after the McLeish appointment, but fans need to start changing their mentality and try and understand that business is business.
Nowadays there is less and less of a place for emotion and sentiment in football. Take Spurs’ proposed move to the Olympic stadium, the majority of fans were against the move because Tottenham would have been taken away from their home turf and in to the territory of a rival club. They no longer would have been a North London side, but an East London side and that is against the tradition and heritage of the club.
But in reality if Spurs had moved to the Olympic Stadium the future would have been bright for Spurs’ longevity as a top side and more importantly, it would have had stabilised the finances of the club. I have no doubt that a lot of Spurs fans would have been up in arms if the move had gone through, a lot like the Villa fans are up in arms now about the appointment of their fiercest rival’s manager.
This is where fans need to start to understand and empathise more with the business side of football. Business has no time for emotion or sentiment; it only has time for progress and profit and at the end of the day, success keeps fans happy. In the case of Aston Villa, Randy Lerner bought the club in order to take it to the next level.
Football clubs do not make good enough profits to be a sensible investment without the achieving Champion’s League football. The bottom-line being that Randy Lerner will only do what is in the clubs best interests because he has to get them to the Champions League football if he is to safe-guard his investment.
The board would have therefore believed that out of all the options open to them, Alex McLeish was the best candidate for the job. They didn’t think they can’t get him because he is a rival clubs manager, it did not even come in to it.
Unfortunately it did in a major way for the fans and to be honest I would be the same, it is a natural human reaction to protect something you love, especially from your fiercest rival’s. As a Villa fan what can you actually do about it? Don’t support the club until they have a new manager in the future? Swear to never go to Villa Park again? It’s rubbish, why cut off your nose to spite your face over a decision that was made purely from a business perspective.
For example, imagine you go for a new job and the person that interviews you is a Birmingham fan, during the interview banter he finds out you are a Villa fan and despite the fact you were the outstanding candidate, you didn’t get the job because of you allegiance. You would be pretty pissed off with that scenario and it would be discrimination in the work place.
I think this whole debacle has highlighted just how far football has come and how the people in charge of this country’s biggest teams operate. Football is now a ruthless business run by some of the most powerful and successful businessmen in the world-fans need to start to understand this.
The argument to the board shouldn’t have been based on rivalry, but on merit, the problem is McLeish has a good CV. He was unlucky this season with injuries that ultimately lead to the clubs relegation, but away from this he has done a lot of good.
He got the best out of players like Sebastian Larsson, Roger Johnson and Craig Gardner. He was able to attract players to Birmingham City who have big European reputations like Alex Hleb, Obafemi Martins, Nikola Zigic and David Bentley. His season went tits up when Dann got injured in January; they had only lost twice at home until then. Dann is one of the most sort-after players this summer, another McLeish signing.
So it should not all be doom and gloom for the Villa faithful, the guy just needs a chance. I love the traditions of football, I love the rivalry and how much people care and live for the game-it is truly a special sport that is one of a kind.
Business is shaping the future of the game from the boots the players wear to the websites you use to access you information. All fans need to realise that tradition is dying out within clubs and it is only the fans can pass this down from generation to generation and fans should uphold what the club stands for. But what can’t be stopped is business and with business come unpopular decisions, decisions that all of us as football fans have to learn to live with. Football is changing and it is time for us football fans to adapt even if we don’t want to.