My name is Matt, I’m 30 years old and I’m in a long term, loving relationship with Aston Villa Football Club.
Being any sort of supporter of a football club is invariably like being in a relationship with a partner. It has it’s ups and downs, but for the most part it gives more good than bad. Being a supporter is about getting behind the team whether you are sitting in the Holte End watching the goals go in, watching the game on Sky Sports, or reading the results from the paper in a bar on one of the Costas.
If you care that we won 2-0, or that we lost 2-0, then you are a supporter. Plain and simple.
Supporting a football team as a person is not about having the money to travel home and away to every match. I'm not more of a supporter the seasons I have a season ticket than the one's I don't. Supporting our club is about having a passion for the fact that you want your team to win, and you’re frustrated when they don’t.
It’s about caring about whether the team is doing well or not, but giving the relationship a chance to work. Supporting a club is about patience, and about ambition but in relative terms. The money I’m putting away isn’t going to buy me an Aston Martin next year, but it will probably pay for the holiday.
Sure I’d like an Aston Martin, but I’m happy with my Renault. By the same logic, I’d love to see us sign a £30m player who makes a difference, but I’d rather buy a £10m player who performs half as well than end up with an Aston Martin for 6 months before it got repossessed when the payments weren’t met.
The reason I make the analogy of the relationship is simple. Amongst our ranks of Villa supporters there are many different types. The type who dates one person but constantly goes on about how attractive everybody else is. The type who never questions anything no matter whether their partner never does anything. The type who celebrates their 50 year wedding anniversary, knowing that there would be nobody for them besides their partner.
Everybody has disagreements, but how you feel long term is what keeps you in it.
Every type of relationship is legitimate, and no choice is wrong. However some of those options do make you happy, and some don’t.
However, fact of the matter is we are all in a relationship with Aston Villa. We chose Villa for any number of reasons. For me it is because I was raised in Aston, for others it could be any number of things. No one reason is better than any other. Fact of the matter is we are not holding many glory hunters amongst our ranks so pretty much every reason for being a Villain is valid. Whether you were born in Birmingham or Bombay, you’re welcome to be part of the family.
Now to the relationship in hand.
We are starting the fourth year of our relationship with the current manager. We have managed to develop as a team in terms of player quality and finish consistently over his time here yet time and time again we see people on his back. We have a chairman who provides money for his manager. People may argue this case because we have not spent yet, but take a look at the big spend we had when we got £40m worth of players in – it was at the end of the transfer window. Certain managers do things a certain way. Fact of the matter is this is how ours does things.
We can’t force the manager to spend money on players any more than anyone here can force their mates to go blow their recent lottery win on flash cars and fast women. Not everybody blows their money they have on the most expensive things that can afford. Not doing so does not make you less ambitious, just shows you to have a different outlook of how you spend money.
Fact of the matter is we don’t know the strategy our chairman and manager has, but I have faith there is a plan behind it all. You only have to look at the economy to see the result of people spending money they didn’t have on ideas that didn’t work out. They end up homeless and destitute. Ask yourself the following; would you take that gamble on maybe having a season of glory if ten years down the line, Villa were in administration?
Investing £75m a season nowadays doesn’t necessarily win you the title any more.
So how do we go about it? Logically we have to take some gambles, but ones that are realistically within our grasp. The reason why you or I might consider spending £500 on a night out as expensive when a footballer could spend that on a bottle of wine is down to simple economics. So is £30m spent on a player in the eyes of our owners given our current stature.
So how would you be successful? Would you spend all your wages on lottery tickets hoping that you win in the next 3 months or your house will be repossessed? Or do you spend a little bit of money on saving and just be happy in the meantime, knowing that you are still happy even if it’s with a small but considered investment that will pay off given time? Gambling is by default a risk, and our manager doesn’t take lots of big ones.
If we swapped out chairman for an oil sheik, we could probably win the title in the next 5 years, but then when that suitor gets bored of that Birmingham based investment in ten years time, where are we left? A massive set of outgoings and not enough incoming money to balance the books. Do you really think Man City will be owned by the same people in 2030?
If their chairman ups and leaves in five years (or Mr Abramovich of Chelsea leaves his club), then we could well see them in administration. I for one would rather be looking back on some success when I’m 50, than telling my kids about who Aston Villa were before they went under. Same way as I’d like to have my wife there with my kids, rather than explain how she committed suicide because she couldn’t cope with the debt she gambled on.
Being a fan of a football team is like a relationship. If your relationship doesn’t make you happy, find another one. However if you love the one you are in a relationship with, give them a break when they get the odd thing wrong. Nobody is perfect, just try to be happy in the meantime.