How Can £40m Make No Difference?

August 18, 2011 by
Filed under: Aston Villa, Guest Blogs, Hot topic debates 

This week’s instalment of Aston Villa Blog’s partnership with fellow fan site Aston Villa Life has been sent in by editor and guest blogger Matt Turvey and is based around the truth behind the finances at the club and why the money recuperated from the sales of Young and Downing has not been spent.

As all Villa fans are aware, we sold two major players in the summer in the form of both Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.  However, when you look at the problems Villa face, it is indicative that problems lie deeper than simple short term cash injections can solve.

Why?  Well if the problems were of the nature that were resolved with a sudden spending of liquid cash, then we wouldn’t have any of the issues we are currently facing.  What we need to face up to is that the problems lie deeper than what cash can genuinely solve on it’s own.

You see, our problems lie in the wage bill.  A problem far less easily shifted than selling your best players.  Great players are a problem everyone wants to have, even if it means you are selling them every year like we have been.  Great players are, by definition, great.  Give me 11 wantaway Stewart Downings every day over 11 Habib Beyes.

People might consider that an insane statement.  Why, after all, would anyone want players at their club who want to leave.  Doesn’t that put them in the lurch?

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t lose any of our best players and would grow stronger and stronger.  However, football is, by it’s very nature, a transitory market.  Players don’t compete in anywhere near the same length of time as you or I would in a “normal” job.  Whilst you and I might be competing to earn money at 50 or 60, you won’t see Darren Bent playing for a team at that age.

The cynics amongst us will, perhaps rightly, state that Darren Bent doesn’t NEED to play football at 50 when he is picking up a reported £90k a week at Villa.  Much the same as I imagine most of us wouldn’t be considering hauling our backsides out of bed at 7 in the morning when we are 60 unless we really had to do so.
Anyway, I digress.  The point I am making is that having good players is a great situation to be in.  The problem, quite obviously, comes when your great players leave and you are left with a bunch of players you can’t shift for love nor money.

Now, before anyone angrily reacts suggesting that I am saying every player is useless at the club, and that we should all arrange a group suicide pact, this is not at all what I am suggesting.  What I am saying is that we have overpaid players.  We have far too many of them, whether they are playing or not.  The problems aren’t just indigenous to those obvious candidates such as Habib Beye either.  They are just as relevant when you look at overpaying players who do well.

Take for example, Darren Bent.  Nobody doubts that he is a good player, and he scores goals.  However, he is being paid twice as much as what Luka Modric is being paid.  Is Darren Bent twice the player of Modric?  No, I don’t think so either.

So, we’re not getting out of this situation easily and, for some of us, it may have to mean a period where we don’t delude ourselves with Champions League aspirations, for a while at least.

The future may be bright, but only if we allow ourselves to be patient.

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16 Comments on How Can £40m Make No Difference?

  1. AstonMichael on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 8:32
  2. Good read mate but you could also take the view that Randy Lerner allowed O’Neill to have too much control at his time at Villa Pk which invariably stuck us with these huge wages and players who just won’t move on because they know they won’t get the wages from another club that we are paying.

    Lerner is supposed to be an astute businessman, isn’t he? Well if he’s so clever, why did he stand by and allow our club to be put in this situation? I’m afraid the fault lies directly at his door! He allowed this mess to happen on his watch and now we are suffering for it. We could have players like Bent earning a great wage and still have lower earners at our club if it had been done right but it wasn’t and uhtil we clear out the deadwood players like Beye, Heskey, etc,etc..we won’t be heading in any direction anytime soon. Nobody wants a bad word said about our gloriuos owner but I’m gonna say it loud and clear! He has us in the state we’re in today. It’s all his fault! MON was allowed to bring in these players and we’re stuck with them til their contracts run out or some other idiot club is willing to pay them for nothing in return. Lerner made huge errors in judgement and we, the fans, are now paying for it. Season after season we watch our best players being sold to balance the books. How could this have been allowed to happen when our glorious eejit of an owner is supposed to be such a great businessman???

    I fear for the future of our club with men like Lerner, Krulak and the 3rd of the STOOGES Faulkner at the helm. We seem to be in freefall at the moment and Lerner is doing nothing to arrest the situation. Selling our best players was never the answer but I suspect he must know that at least. If he doesn’t then we are in serious trouble. At least Houllier was trying to bring nack the attacking football some of us fans remembered at one time at VP.

    What annoyes me entirely is how certain sections of the Villa support seem happy to trundle along with any old crap at our club and then when ppl like myself speak out about the state of affairs under Lerner we’re called neggos and such like. Lerner is dragging our great club backwards and nobody is willing to say anything about it. Personally, I think his motives are a little dodgy. I don’t trust the man or his cronies for that matter. They have pulled and dragged at our emotions since arriving at VP and I’ve had enough of their BULLSHIT now! I want em all gone asap!!! FUCK OFF LERNER!!

  3. Apocalypso on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 8:43
  4. Astonmichael – you have a very short memory!

    If Randy Lerner hadn’t saved us from the Doug Ellis era we would now be languishing in the Championship!

    5 years ago we had no money, no players and no hope.
    We had just finished 16th under DOL, the players and fans were revolting against the club and without a buyout we had no where to go.

    Randy Lerner came in and invested money in the squad, the infrastucture and the heritage, whilst always maintaining that the plan was for the club to become self sufficient.

    He has signed off huge transfer fees for players like Ashley Young, Downing, MIlner and Bent – and the wage bill was (I suspect) a gamble, as if we had achieved CL football during those three years we finished 6th the wage to turnover ratio would have been roughly correct at 65-70%!

    The biggest criticism of Doug Ellis was that he was never willing to gamble a bit of cash on success – well, Randy Lerner has done that and it didn’t come off. Now he is trying a more sensible approach – and I suspect once the wage bill is under control we will see some more capital investment,


  5. Stuart on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 9:01
  6. Good read but 90k? Don’t believe what you read in the press.

  7. FatKev on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 9:33
  8. Great Post
    Foe me its not about the players but the management
    Randy has to take full responsibility for the state we are in, even if he gave full control to MoN who i believe is his escape goat
    He still agreed to the commitment & that we could afford it which we clearly cannot
    He has ended any hope of us being a football team just a credit card for randy

  9. SANDRO on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 10:07
  10. Can someone enlighten us how many players Villa have to sell to lower the wage bill? Now Young, Downing, Reo Cocker, Friedel and Carew have left., there is Beye and maybe Heskey but who else. Does the club expect to have a squad of 11 players? Do you think any new player will come at much lower wages, defenitely not the players we fans expect.? I feel that the wage bill is only an excuse. If the team is not strengthened the preformances will be inferior and the gate money will be lower.

  11. BlackStar on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 10:14
  12. you must be blind or stupid, Learner is a great owner who came in, hired a top man in mon at the time, did what a good chairman would do in investing in players of the managers chooseing which did twice nearly get us top 4.

    you seem to spew a lot of hate for a tru villa fan,

    rather learner at the helm than old doug ellis ( NO JOKE ) and you cant beat that

    villa are moving forward in big ways all over the bored on our ship, from entering our youth in the new u19 cl to integrating home grown players into our 1st team ( just like the old day’s )

    you should keep your negative thoughts to yourself as its no good moaning now as u will find yourself never sattisfied like those gooner fans ( dreamworld )

    up the villa scince 84

  13. TJ on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 10:18
  14. The problem is – what would you suggest is a suitable figure for our wage bill to be at?

    Over the last 12-14 months, we’ve cut about £15 million from that. Just look at the players we have got rid of and the wages they were on. We’ve sold or released 15 first team players and brought in just 5 in that period.

    If we continue to cut, we will be serious relegation candidates. If we are to significantly reduce the wage bill we need to get rid of someone on £50k/week and bring in someone on £30k/week. And you cannot sign quality by doing that any more.

    Look at our reserves. They are virtually all academy players now. The only one I can see that isn’t would be Habib Beye. Which means the vast majority of our wage bill is sitting in our first team or on our bench and are key players for the club.

  15. BlackStar on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 10:43
  16. this is why AM is now having to keep us tight for this season then we’ll be back in the mix, we have a strong team as seen by the grit we showed against a fully fit fulham who have played 3times the amount of games we have, i for one am happy to survive this year balance the books and get the club ubove water, AM knows and understands what is needed to reach the top, Villa are blessed with a eam that although ageing are well known to one-another so makes for a great frame for AM to build on, he done it up north and won the scum silver too even doing us on the way with our so called best players in the team ( young,downing). Learner too has a past history of building up sports clubs so not much can be said when the average fan could not even fathem or have the forsight to proppelle a club in any competative game in the world to the top ( forgive the spelling, in a rush to get to workn ) lol

  17. dazvilla on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 11:06
  18. darren bent picks up £65000 p.week not £90,000

  19. Paul Lyons on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 11:17
  20. Some of you fickle Berks especially AstonMichael have to remember that MON was our best manager since John Gregory and that we enjoyed our best run in many years under MON, our squad was threadbare when he took over and yes he overspent on certain players and was a bit slow in teh transfer market but look at the money he also made the club on James Milner, Ashley Young & Stewart Downing, At least Lerner was willing to back him at the time and im sure some of our fickle fans would have been straight on Lerner’s back had he not backed him, Ole Randy can’t win sometimes, would you’s rather have tight arse Doug Ellis back, I certainly think not! I dont agree with the appointment of Big Eck but i think we are at the stage where we have to see what Big Eck can do before we throw money at him!

  21. AA on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 11:44
  22. TJ – Strong opinion mate although I don’t necessarily disagree. The biggest egg in this set up (for me) is Faulkner. He hasn’t got a clue, screwed up the managers job in emphatic style and f**ked off on his honeymoon whilst the dust settled.

    One thing though to be clear is that we didn’t sell Downing and Young to clear the books (although that’s what materialised), we sold them because they wanted to leave!! A position we will always be in when there are clubs out there willing to pay exorbant fees and wage demands.

    We are no better off (relatively speaking) dare i say than in the deadly days only we now have a shiny ground!!

  23. AA on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 11:46
  24. AstonMichael not TJ – Sorry!!!

  25. ViolentLoser on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 17:01
  26. People don’t always see that the true cost of any transfer is rather complex and the actual initial fee can simply be the tip of the iceberg. That I can understand. The wage issue WAS a massive issue. That I can understand. I also fully understood the recent stance, and could in fact foresee as such during the MON era, that MON had lumbered us with a fair few players who were a considerable drain on the club without contributing a great deal. What I can’t now understand is this:

    In the last couple of seasons we have had these players go out;

    Friedel; Shorey; Bouma; Curtis Davies; Sidwell; Ashley Young; Downing; Robert Pires; Milner; Isiah Osbourne; Reo-Coker; Carew, Harewood. A veritable snapshot of MON’s highs and lows. He bought most of these and most of them were barely given chance to pull on the shirt before being ousted to the reserves, throttled, publicly humiliated or feared AWOL. Sometimes maybe a combination of all of the above.

    The only real deadwood that remains is Habib Beye – and to some extent Stephen Ireland. Though I am sure we still hold dome hope that Ireland recaptures the form we have all seen in the past. While we have our doubts it must be worth giving him this season as he has been making all the right noises this season – despite what was rumoured last. Maybe cases could be made for trimming a little bit of ageing fat in Cuellar, Guzan; Petrov and Heskey. Maybe even in the case of Dunne. Though that is more trimming someone who is fat. However, we’d still have to have replacements come in if we were to lose all or some of these chaps.

    I hope this is a case of smoke and mirrors and that Aston Villa pull out a couple of monumental transfers over the next couple of weeks. How likely is that to happen though? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the words of Ronan Keating: “life is a rollercoaster, we just gotta ride it”.


  27. Peggy on Thu, 18th Aug 2011 18:01
  28. Hi fellow Villains – I echo some of BlackStar’s thoughts. For me it’s simple and I hope the context as set out below helps:

    New owner takes over our beloved club in 2006 and handsomely supports the then new manager. Owner charges manager to deliver players to secure Champions League football. The manager’s team falls short and owner asks where’s return on investment to deliver the vision of CL football at Villa Park. Owner questions manager why highly paid players not playing and why those who have played have not delivered the vision, manager takes exception at being held to account by owner who’s financially backed him but who starts to question his managerial performance.

    This is exactly what happens to me as a manager working to a board. However unlike me having to continually prove my worth, MON acted like a spoilt brat when his managerial performance came under scrutiny, the latter buckled and then did every he could to ensure maximum damage was caused on a pre-meditated resignation. That’s how I see it and no-one will convince me otherwise.

  29. Matt Turvey on Fri, 19th Aug 2011 11:56
  30. Bent’s £90k a wage wasn’t told to me by the press but by a friend of mine who plays up front with him in the first team at Villa.

    Trust me, it surprised me as much as it does you.

  31. Matt Turvey on Fri, 19th Aug 2011 12:00
  32. PS £90k a week is gross pay.

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