GBU: Aston Villa Deal Apparently Kills Football

The Good Bad and Ugly PSR Limbo Special

Welcome back Villa fans. After another objectively successful end to the season, Crystal Palace embarrassment apart, the limbo period of Euro 2024 has thrown up plenty to talk about other than England’s chances of winning. Get your calculators out.

Champions League Aston Villa

The Good

Champion’s League qualification. That’s the good news, the achievement that for so long felt like the holy grail for Aston Villa.

Whether it proves to be that is another matter, but for now, it’s a monumental thing, when you consider since Leicester City won the league, only Newcastle United last season and Aston Villa this have managed to take a place away from the ‘Super League Six’ of Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Whatever the future brings, to do this on merit is nothing to be sniffed at.

Villan of the Week – The Aston Villa Spreadsheet Expert

Whoever the poor Villa accountant that has to balance the finances at Villa better be on a bonus this month, as long as it doesn’t affect the bottom line.

The Bad

As usual, Aston Villa seem to be at the centre of a storm regarding their transfer dealings.

Premier League fans live in the age of 115 FFP charges for Manchester City, points deductions, Saudi-owned teams selling unwanted players to the Saudi Pro League, yet Aston Villa following the rules has people saying football is dead.

I’ve got news for you, football died a long time ago. It’s all about the business now and business can get dirty.

Have there been mutually beneficial arrangements forged between Everton, Chelsea and Aston Villa? Well, it’s then a coincidence that these are the three teams with the most immediate PSR concerns. Are the fees of respective players in the deals inflated? Maybe. But, if it provokes a rethink of the rules, then it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Offloading academy talent, that Villa have either developed themselves or recently scalped from neighbouring Midlands clubs is a business model that has saved Villa from PSR punishment.

The romantic idea that a Club’s academy is primarily there to provide first-team players is for the naive. The odds have never been good for such dreams. Of course, there are exceptions, a player like Jack Grealish or Jacob Ramsey will rise to the top, if they are lucky, however other’s may need to find another path.

You don’t need to like it or agree with it to realise that’s where football is at in 2024.

The big deal of the window so far has been the Douglas Luiz transfer from Villa to Juventus, with Samuel Illing-Junior. and Enzo Barrenechea heading in the other direction.

While it is a cool circa £50 million entered into the Villa accounts, it’s the real reason football can be called dead.

Gareth Barry, James Milner and Ashley Young – three distinguished servants of Aston Villa, left because Villa failed to reach the Champions League. Douglas Luiz is being sold without much of a fight because Villa need to sell, despite achieving Champions League. There’s your death of football.

The Ugly

2024’s Big Villa is watching you…

In George Orwell’s 1984, there’s a section near the beginning regarding chocolate rations. In the authoritarian state, the chocolate ration was 30g and then reduced to 20g. A day later, the Ministry of Truth claims it has been raised to 20 grams (its supposed previous level is not mentioned). There are mass celebrations by the captive populace beholden to Big Brother.

What relevance does this have to Aston Villa, you ask? Consider the continued GA+ offerings at Villa Park.

Displacing 900+ season ticket holders, creating GA+ in some of the less desirable areas of the ground, and plastering Adidas on anything that moves in the name of revenue is not something that needs to be celebrated.

In real terms, like the chocolate ration, you are getting less, paying more, and being told to celebrate for the privilege.

While Villa needs to increase their revenue to make the aforementioned PSR shenanigans unnecessary, don’t pretend that these moves are all for the benefit of the fans.

The real deals that move the needle – shirt sponsors, kit deals, player sales, and team success – are so far ahead of the increase that GA+ brings, it’s not even on the same spreadsheet.

Putting aside the 27,000 season ticket holders and 4,000+ hospitality seats, hitting fans with a double-digit percentage increase and adding roughly an extra £10 to the remaining available match day tickets will earn around an extra £2 million over 19 Premier League games. Is it worth it when you’re potentially pricing out some long-term fans, especially multiple-ticket-buying families? For context, Aston Villa spent £21.1 million on agents’ fees alone in the two transfer windows last season.

The return on investment for aggressively increasing matchday revenue is negligible compared to the damage it does to the 900+ season ticket holders who are moving seats against their will.

Improve the facilities and make people want to spend money inside Villa Park of their own volition, and it will happen organically. Tax your matchday fans, and you will drive them away.

The Villa Park fan demographic will soon shift, and Villa will need to sustain constant European football every season to keep the tourist/glory-hunter type fans attending Villa Park.


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  1. Excellent analogy, the big 6 must be banging on the FA’s door at the sheer audacity of us thinking outside the box

  2. Excellent edotorial there. I’m surprised you managed to get it all onto one page…Lol. Well done, very good read.


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