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"..heritage is not a luxury at football clubs.."


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"..heritage is not a luxury at football clubs.."

The title was "stolen" from an article in the Guardian dated 7th March 2008, but it is too good a phrase to be wasted on one piece.

The Yanks don't always get a good press here in the UK, from George W through to bad fashion, over eating, no history, crap cars and a way of life that is dominated by the dollar and how many you can get from others. If you believe these stereo types you would start to wonder how the traditional football fan would take to this type of fellow being in charge of their club. Both Man Utd and Liverpool sets of fans have been very vocal in their condemnation of their "Yanks", so why (with the odd exception) have Villa fans been so supportive of our own Stars and Stripes brigade? This is the Villa fans who for many years ran vocal and strong campaigns against the people running their club, Villa fans who know a bit or two about being peed off with interfering chairmen etc.

Randy Lerner arrived at the club a few years back. Randy who? After the first few minutes of schoolboy sniggers at his name - of yeah another American trait, strange names - and a bit of Googling it soon became apparent that Mr Lerner and the team he was bringing on board with him were not novices to the running of major sports organisations, nor were they ignorant of what the traditional fans wanted. After numerous years of non-delivery from the previous incumbents of the board room, there was still a bit of scepticism as to what these "yanks" would do. We didn't have to wait long though to see that these boys knew what they were doing and did it with a sense of style and respect to what the club had been built on throughout its long history.

OK an element is about winning hearts and minds, but if done for the right reasons and with lasting benefits there isn't a lot wrong with that approach. "Proud History, Bright Future" quickly got established as the tag-line we were working to. A perfect phrase as it turns out because Mr Lerner quickly showed that he was the anti to all of those misguided views on the typical American.

AVFC is not a thing that can be turned into a Disney-esque play thing. It is not a new toy for the Oil rich. It is not something that can be used and abused like a cheap whore. What it is is a club that the many thousands of fans can rightly be proud of, past, present and just as importantly in the future.

I'm an older git now, my kids are adults and I have a Grandson who at 3 years old will hopefully have many years ahead of him also following this great club of ours. I am confident that with people like Randy Lerner in charge. my grandkids will be able to enjoy football at Villa Park, safe that they are watching a club built on so many good things and not just a franchise for a mega rich egotist.

Simon Inglis is a Villa supporter and editor of English Heritage's Played in Britain series of books, which document sport's architectural heritage. -

"With his tastes and philanthropy, Randy Lerner has qualities sadly rare in football club chairmen," he said. "Lerner seems to have appreciated that heritage is not a luxury but an intrinsic part of football clubs.

"In fact, after so many years of disappointment, he seems almost too good to be true."

Well said that man!!

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