In positive news, Scotland international captain John McGinn has committed his future to Villa until 2027.
McGinn joined Villa from Hibs in 2018 for a mere £2m, instantly adding bite and drive to a side still reeling from Premier League relegation. The Scot quickly became a fan favourite and was a significant figure as Dean Smith steered Villa to promotion from the Championship a year later, scoring in the playoff final win against Derby.
The current club captain, who struggled under sacked boss Steven Gerrard, enjoyed a resurgence in form under Unai Emery in 2022/23. Villa were ultimately successful in securing European football, finishing 7th in the Premier League. It will be the club’s first foray into Europe since the 2010 campaign.
McGinn has made 184 appearances for Villa, scoring 17 times. He has also established himself on the international scene for Scotland, totting up an impressive 56 caps to date and building a reputation after a number of commanding displays.
The midfielder, now 28, signed an extension as recently as 2020. This latest deal will likely deter any potential suitors and keep the likable player at Villa Park through the peak years of his career.
NEW HOME KIT RELEASED
Well, for most Villa fans, one of the least important things is what shirt we play in. Indeed, for us here at Villa Underground towers, they could play in a claret and blue bin-bag for all it ultimately matters.
There are a few interesting points of note on the new shirt that are worth mentioning though.
First is the latest unheard-of sponsor, the last before a long overdue prohibition on front-of-shirt gambling sponsors comes into force. Parking the dubious sponsorship arrangement, one which even Norwich City withdrew from, the logo is sadly quite ugly too.
At a time when the club is on a seemingly endless cycle of milking all of the commercial teets it can, this under-whelming home shirt launch seemed to fall decidedly flat. At £115 (“Pro” version) or £70 for the regular shirt, presumably, any poor soul shelling out is having to subsidise the majority who will likely give this launch a wide berth.
Perhaps Villa could take Watford’s lead, offering supporters the chance to remove hideous advertiser logos from their shirt? (For a fee, of course).
Get The Badge In
A surprise development is the brakes being firmly applied to Villa’s ‘new’ badge and rebranding exercise. It has been revealed that the new round badge, which appears on the new kit, will now not roll out to anything else for at least a year.
This is an interesting development, especially after a prolonged but arguably flawed fan engagement process. Supporters will recall their choices were the nostalgic round badge (with the wrong facing lion) or the “lamp” alternative that appeared to have been re-imagined after half a bottle of pinot noir.
Whilst the process of consultation felt decidedly awkward at the time, the offerings and what was arrived at certainly didn’t seem to hit the mark. Perhaps this is therefore a not entirely unexpected development.
What The Heck
This embarrassing pause by the club, after much fan-fare and high-fiving, comes hot on the heels of Christian Purslow’s exit being announced by the club. Newly arrived Chris Heck (President of Business Operations) has been charged with driving Villa’s commercial success globally and one would assume this is a change he would hope to oversee and get right.
Getting the rebranding wrong at this stage would be seen as a costly error. Quite what this means is unclear, but for the first time, the club will have two brand logos, a confusing proposition to any consumer….customer…..fan.