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Scandal at Villa Park!

Perry Deakin

17 Jul 2018

With the whole country wrapped up in England’s World Cup journey over in Russia it is easy to miss or ignore the meltdown currently occurring at Aston Villa, one of the UK’s major football clubs with a proud history and countless trophies. Somehow, this giant of English football finds itself unable to pay bills, unable to sign players and even more terrifyingly, in a position of needing to sell their major playing talent during the summer in order to survive. A few very short weeks ago the club were preparing for a play-off final at Wembley against Fulham – 45,000 supporters were heading down to London for a game which they hoped would see the club return to its rightful place in the Premier League following two seasons of misery in the Championship and everything looked fairly rosy. Fulham’s 1 – 0 win in the play-off final condemned Villa to a third year in the Championship but supporters were already making positive noises about ‘next-season’ and the likelihood of Villa being promoted – disappointment of the Fulham game aside, things looked reasonably happy at Villa Park. Most supporters backed manager Steve Bruce as the man to do the job and began looking forward to a World Cup – Then the bombshell! News began to leak about a tax bill which the club had defaulted on and dates being set by HMRC for ‘winding up’ hearings… surely not? Not Aston Villa, past league title winners, European cup winners and one of the most recognisable club sides in the world? To Villa supporters dismay, the leaked news stories proved not only accurate, but were actually only the tip of the iceberg – the club were in a financial mess and heading for oblivion! News soon followed confirming that Chief Executive Keith Wyness had been fired and was suing the club for unfair dismissal, then the club’s Director of Football, Steve Round was fired and Manager Steve Bruce confirmed that he has been told that selling his best players was necessary if the club were to survive – suddenly the truth began to dawn, Villa were becoming the biggest club in England to have suffered this type of financial meltdown and were in serious trouble. I think that by far the worst thing about the whole situation for supporters is the absolute certainty that the club’s crown-jewel, 22 year-old mid-fielder Jack Grealish will be sold on the cheap. This is a boy who is a Villa fanatic and living his dream by playing for the club he adores – he doesn’t even have a choice in the matter, he has been told that he needs to agree a move to ‘save’ his club!! All interested clubs know that Aston Villa are in a mess and therefore will offer ridiculously low amounts for the player knowing that Villa will simply have to accept the amount offered. Villa should simply never have found themselves in this situation – it appears the club’s entire future was gambled on retuning to the Premier League last season. How on earth can a club of Villa’s stature find itself without any senior executives, without the majority of its experienced football staff and having to sell one of England’s most exciting prospects. It is just one element of an absolutely heart-breaking situation for the club’s supporters and as soon as the current World Cup euphoria subsides they will have to face the truth – it is going to be a very uncomfortable time at the club they love. The club’s Chinese owner, Tony Xia has a great deal to answer for! Highbury and Rotterdam seem an awfully long time ago!

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