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Villa Plan For the Future


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by PB

The direction of the new look Aston Villa Football Club was unveiled by new Chief Executive Richard Fitzgerald yesterday. PB was taking notes.

Aston Villa will be competing in the Champions League in five years time. So says the new man in charge of day to day operations at Villa Park Richard Fitzgerald. Richard, who joined the club on January 1st, was formerly a big cheese at marketing giants IMG alongside fellow director Bob Kain and it will not be a surprise to you therefore to hear that marketing, both locally and globally forms a key part of the plan to take Villa forwards.

“What’s new?” I hear the ever sceptical Villa fans say, “Villa has always talked about qualifying for the Champions League, always talked about Jam tomorrow. This is just more of the same”.

In one respect they are indeed correct, as was posted on the message board yesterday Doug Ellis indeed always had a 5 year plan. That plan largely involved him staying in control and talking about the Champions League while not actually having much of a clue how to achieve such an aim. Actions, they say, talk louder than words, which is why you want the first thing your new CEO to say is:

“Actions speak louder than words but the board is committed to developing the club and providing the platform for Aston Villa to compete at the highest level of the Premier League and in Europe.”

Yeah yeah, jam tomorrow, heard it all before Richard. Tell us something we don’t know.

"In a year's time, we would like to see an infrastructure being built to support a club competing for top honours, competing in the top half of the Premier League and for a European place.”

So what? We have often competed in the top half of the table, often qualified for Europe. It’s all the same as before. Given the amount of money Martin O’Neill has just spent we had better be in the top half of the table next season...

“In five years time, we aim to compete in the Champions League”

Well, we’ve heard it all before. Lets see the plan, how, exactly, do you intend to take this rather mediocre mid table club to the point where it can successfully compete with Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, because in order to even qualify for the Champions League we will need to finish above one of these four for the first time in quite some years.

“My brief from the board is clear - to fill the stadium week in and week out; create an infrastructure to support a top club. We are very aware the local population of 5.3million is a vast potential supporter base and we will focus the core of our commercial ambitions here.

"And, although the global growth of our fan base is not presently the club's most urgent priority, it is nevertheless of strategic importance to the long term. We will potentially look to the United States as we deem it a fast growing soccer market. Our US connections make it more achievable.

"There are also a lot of opportunities around Asia, particularly for the bigger clubs. The Premier League is incredibly popular. But international expansion at this moment will require strong partners that we do not currently have for it to work effectively - and a winning team."

Well, as the man says, actions speak louder than words. It all sounds very plausible and sensible, and the track records of all of these people suggest strongly that they know how to succeed. At the end of the day though they will not be judged on their plans, on their words, they will be judged by a supporter base that has seen more false dawns than you can imagine on results, ultimately on what the team does on the pitch.

It is reassuring to know that we have people like this in the background creating the right infrastructure as if you believe for one minute that success can be built without everything being in place off the pitch then you are living in the past.

So, I’ll see you all at the Nou Camp in 2012 then? Looking forward to it already.


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