The Good, Bad and Ugly – New Year Edition
Welcome to 2024 Villans, a nice festive break after the busiest winter period most Villa fans can remember has left things poised nicely for the remainder of the 23/24 season.
If Villa are going through a bit of a dip in form, then it isn’t too a damaging blip in terms of actual results for their Champions League aspirations. Their title chances maybe, but as long as they keep maintaining the points gained or increasing them over their rivals each game week, then it will be enough for a top four finish.
Take the most recent draw against Everton, it was one point gained on Newcastle, and the same as Manchester United and Spurs achieved. While three points is the target every week, the phenomenal 2023 calendar year has maybe caused some fans to lose some ‘big picture’ vision. Also, the results of 2023 will be tough to replicate.
The objective is Champions League qualification though and anything less will ultimately be a disappointment. It doesn’t mean Aston Villa need the perfection necessary for winning the title, they just need to keep ahead of the pack, the upcoming home games against their main rivals, Newcastle, Manchester United and Spurs are season defining. Come out of those still ahead of the pack and it’ll be very much game on.
Villan of the Week – Emiliano Martinez
The best in the world. The Everton game was further proof. Nothing else needs said.
The Bad and Ugly
Imagine a fictional club…
After being run into the ground over a decade, this club has picked themselves up and find themselves back in the upper reaches of the Premier League, delighting fans that have suffered for years.
Meanwhile, this club’s stadium, while still majestic and a unique experience, desperately needs the basic concourses upgrading.
Season tickets have risen over the past few seasons, by a larger percentage increase than many rivals, while the basic concourses are deteriorating. So fans are left are paying more despite seeing no improvement in their match day facilities.
A traditional communal space that was available to season ticket holders, was secretly removed and rebranded, so fans would now have to pay their way into it. If season ticket holders wanted to use it every game, it would cost them way over the cost of their season ticket, for something they traditionally enjoyed for free.
The club’s iconic kop end stand, the lungs of the stadium, instead of being raised as a feature and used to bring in commerce like the Yellow Wall in Dortmund, had it’s heart hollowed out and a corporate bubble created so people can pay extra for a more sanitised experience. Something that wasn’t communicated to paying fans and members, many of whom purchased the membership so they can sit in the same stand on match days. Now when members go to the club’s website to book, it tells them that the stand is locked out.
The addition of lanyards (now wristbands) and velvet ropes, where the traditional hardcore of the fan base sit, has led to friction between those who want that experience and those who don’t. The club’s point of view? They’re only fans, let them squabble amongst themselves.
The new incoming head of commercial business, has decided they don’t like the new club crest that was agreed by a majority of the fan base and was to mark a new direction for the club. The old badge was one that fans had no emotional attachment to and represented recent failure.
Instead of running the consultation again and presenting higher quality choices to the fans, against FA rules they’ve imposed their own version, which is similar to the previous one. It’s ok, hopefully they’ll only be here for a short while, before moving on to their next corporate gig.
Oh, and in case it messes with their CV, they’ve completely shelved plans to upgrade the stadium by building a much needed new stand, one that would likely see the ‘increased revenue’ for many years to come. The next guy that comes in to head up the business operations can take the financial hit on their bottom line figures.
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But it’s not all bad news for this team. The commercial head has managed to secure a kit manufacturer that people have actually heard of. It helps that one of the owners, part owns this company as well, but it wouldn’t have happened without the new guy would it?
Now in a time where the club should be laying the foundations for continued growth for decades to come, building on the work with local government that has already been completed, it’s standing still and patching in more seats on top of creaking concourses.
But it’s ok, isn’t it? It’s for the greater good. To increase revenue by a pound or two here and there, and be another point on some people’s corporate social media.
The fans won’t care, if the team keeps up this success they can just get new fans anyway. Ones that don’t go to matches, that sign-up to imaginary waiting lists and keep smiling as they are milked for cash.
Who knows, when the club gets enough new online fans, they can just move to a different city, that’s how franchises work.
I bet Villa fans are glad they don’t support this fictional club. Nothing like this would ever happen at Aston Villa, and if it did, supporters would stand together to prevent it, wouldn’t they?
You can only feel sorry for clubs that end up like that…
Follow Phil on Twitter here – @prsgame