Burying bad news beneath bad news at Aston Villa
by Dan Mobbs
Top flight football clubs are gleaming polished marketing tools that rarely take a misstep in the march towards their latest pot of gold. Teams of people control and buff information until they deem it fit for consumption by fans, repeatedly remind loyal supporters of the glory days to promote a positive image of the club and send e-mails about romantic Valentine’s Day special offers at the in-stadium club restaurant overlooking the pitch.
Aston Villa though have a cloud hanging over their struggling marketing team at present. The owner wants out, the money has dried up, the former assistant manger’s suspension and then sacking four months ago has yet to be explained, the supporters clubs have been ordered not to grumble for fear of hinting towards reality and their marketing tie ins are promoting little more than a disinterested shrug of the shoulders.
Either unable or unwilling to elaborate on the reasons behind the dismissals of former assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa, the signing of Phillipe Senderos was perhaps an opportunity to release the reasoning for the dismissals beneath the dark cloud of calamitous defending that has been his trademark for so long.
However, the silence rumbles on and outgoing owner Randy Lerner said the pair’s suspension was due to “unexpected issues that could have very easily set the club back”. No further details have yet been released, suggesting that either legal proceedings are cloaking the incident in silence, or the club are distancing themselves from the occurrence and biding their time until the news can be released without too much reaction.
Lerner’s decision to sell up obviously plays a factor too. Having generously listed the club at a price £100m less than the total sum he’s invested, the American is clearly motivated to exit the club, but attracting a prospective owner to the glamourous Midlands might not be as tempting once the club’s dirty laundry has been aired in public.
And following the club’s decision to impose a 20-point decree on Villa’s 200-plus Lions supporters clubs, which in part effectively gags them from criticising the club, the club’s attempts to find a new owner aren’t garnering the sort of interest from a filthy rich owner that you might expect for an established top flight side.
“You will not partake in any abusive conversations towards anyone associated with the Club in any public forum, whether this is on a page that is personal to you and bears your name, OR on a page that bears the name of your Lions Club (including social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc),” read the command as reported by the Birmingham Mail.
The club’s inauspicious off the field off activities are steadily mounting and collectively they aren’t going to attract much interest if recent trends at the club continue.
That leaves the responsibility of restoring the polish to the club’s reputation on the shoulders of Paul Lambert and new assistant Roy Keane. If you’re a Villa fan you’ll be hoping that Lambert has finally settled on something approaching a winning formula at the club, or is pushed aside, that Keane is the catalyst the club needs, or like last year that the clubs at the wrong end are simply more determined to disappoint.
Either way, if Lambert does overhaul the club’s fortunes to the point of attracting a new owner it will be by far his greatest accomplishment in the game to date.Aston Villa, Premier League
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