Villa announced today that Mervyn King, marmite former banker & lifelong Villa fan had joined the board.
Influential in finance, opinion dividing throughout his career and now an Aston Villa director.
At the very least King is a Villa fan.
I do think it is a challenge analysing King’s career and translating it to his new role, but, I will attempt to make rational sense of his arrival. Whilst, I think his experiences, knowledge and connections bring something to the club; it is those very skills & how they may be applied which raise an eyebrow.
King was a staunch supporter of the governments controversial budget cutting policies whilst at the Bank of England. Additionally, his experiences of managing fluid periods of financial uncertainty should not go un-noticed.
This is where reasonable concern might lie in terms of King’s role. The fact he is a fan, is purely a coincidence.
Aston Villa sits on the precipice of great uncertainty. As a club it is staring at relegation from a position of untold riches, into an abyss of financial unknowns. Unknowns that could quite feasibly tear through a football club with revenue far inferior & less established than many competitors.
Indeed, our situation has frightening similarities to the economic crash Britain specifically suffered and arguably continues to. During the good times, Aston Villa didn’t make enough of the wealth it had. What wealth it did make, was invested badly. The crash is on the horizon & we are ill prepared for the moment the cash turns off.
It is therefore no surprise to me that we have appointed a figure with experience of managing financial calamity and doing so with an unwavering faith in austerity.
This is telling about not only our outlook but the absolute certainty that the club is now on it’s own financially. The fact Remi Garde signed nobody in the transfer window suddenly points to the obvious; we have no money or outlay beyond our own under-performing income.
Tom Fox at the recent Villa Trust AGM spoke of “change management” within the club. The latest appointment is that plan coming to fruition before our eyes. The team is assembling.
Whilst Fox is accused of being revenue focused, it is plainly his only purpose. Steve Hollis’ specialisms place great emphasis upon knowing how to make under utilised assets work for a business; a scary prospect indeed. King is the austere finance veteran charged with plotting a course through barren waters in an environment where total loss is a possibility.
Whilst alarming, at least he managed by luck or judgement to bring the economy back from the brink of total collapse.
What it still lacking though is a real football brain on the board; but that is never, ever, going to happen.
This is a fact because a football minded appointment would never align to the ethos of the board and club in its current format. A fan, whoever they may be, would carry no weight even if appointed.
In an boardroom of entrenched financial prudence, austerity and commercial deals; pitching for big money signings and wages are an unwinnable argument.
Arguably, this is just prudent financial governance. In reality, that is exactly what it is. However, it isn’t a model that nurtures footballing success. There is no speculator and no figurehead who understands or prescribes to a view that you can take calculated, measured risks.
Nobody wants to be a Leeds or a Portsmouth. But equally nobody wants to be an Aston Villa.
An Aston Villa that lets the world pass it by, treading water at best, reminiscing about part achievements, lamenting past visionaries – whilst it should be forging a new future of success of its own.
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