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New home, long story, but the Aston Villa blog continues

Morning all and welcome to a sort of new home for the Aston Villa Blog. Basically, OleOle seem to have stopped me from logging in this morning so I was unable to tell you about Randy Lerner dropping out of the billionaires rich list or give you my match prediction as I wanted to this morning.

Instead, I've got to write this and get this new site set up, because if they're not giving me access and not replying to emails, there is little else for me to do.


I bet you are wondering why though and even if you're not, I'm going to tell you anyway.

Basically, OleOle approached me last year wanting to buy the site, the domain name and the content. To say I was a little nervous when they didn't want to offer me any money and just pay me monthly to keep blogging, would be an understatement, so I said no, not unless you pay something up front. They were after all wanting to 'buy' everything.

So, they did. They paid a lump sum up front and then we agreed a smaller monthly fee. I was happy as I was given assurances that I'd still have complete control on how things worked and looked and I was going to get more money than the site was making, although I should say at this stage that the site was never there to make money, it grew from my love of the club. But that is sort of not what we're talking about.

Anyway, I've had recent problems getting paid by OleOle and they've told us that backers have backed out. I've also got little to no control on how the site functions or looks and I've got to have all those ads all over the place which make the site look cheap, which it shouldn't.

Now, I appreciate they have to make money but it doesn't look as good as it did any more and it mostly looks like a banner farm for affiliates to drop an ad or two. I might be alone in this but for me, design is an important factor of a web site and while the content is the main reason for visiting a site, users tend to like visiting well thought out sites that are not too cluttered and they don't want to see ads everywhere. Mind you, I am going to have one in the top right hand corner - if only to fill the space.

Anyway, that's not the reason why I can't get in today. Basically, I got an email last week telling me I had to transfer the domain by close of business Monday or return the money and go our separate ways and well, that came as a bit of a shock and felt very much like a company desperately looking for money.

The thing is, I've kept up my end of the bargain. I'm blogging and I'm doing it on OleOle under the banner of the Aston Villa Blog. The old domain name redirects to them and while the functionality of the site and the design isn't to my liking, it was working. I was and still am to an extent, committed to transferring the domain name to them after the three year period is up and they had fully paid for the content and domain name, as long as I can add content and keep blogging.

I might even be forced to transfer to the domain name to them, seeing as they've got all the content, but they're not replying to my emails today and I got no notice of this happening, so my hand was sort of forced.

They've got all the content, that you'll see is not on this site, but I have to say, when you get an email from one of the co-founders demanding you transfer the domain or pay back the money (which is now not the same amount seeing as most of it was put into shares and they've all gone to pot), it does get you a little worried about the business as a whole especially when you've had problems getting paid, backers are pulling out and in the current economic climate, so on Monday I bought this domain name, just in case something like this happened.

So, this is the new home for now as I can't log in to the old site and they've turned off comments. It's going to take a while to get the site back to where it was and it feels like I've lost an arm, but had I transferred the domain name and OleOle had gone bust I'd never have got it back and if they decided to sell up and the new owners we're not going to stick to the old deal, then I would have lost it all too without getting what was agreed.

It's not that things changed, but I was told lots of things that didn't happen and I'd lost faith, call it trust if you wish, in one of the co-founders after getting told things and finding out things didn't happen that way.

So, this is my new home and where I'll continue to blog about Aston Villa. The old domain name is going to continue to forward to OleOle until my solicitor tells me what to do and while I only have the old content up to when we moved, that might one day come back, but for now, it is going to stay where it is at the moment.

I must also say that it's gut wrenching losing the blog and the content. I've spent five years working on it and it was a great place. However, the most important thing about the site and where I find myself now is, the blog is more than a domain name, it was about the community that was created from it. I've had some great days on here over the years and there have been some great debates on all things from David O'Leary to more recently Gareth Barry, Steve Sidwell and James Milner.

Bottom line, it's not about me or a domain name, it's about the content and most of that is created by the users. So, hopefully, over time, we can make this particular site just as good as it was.

Thanks for reading, now I'll get back to blogging.

An update on March 19th at 10am, just so I don't have to answer this again. On Thursday, when this site went live, I forwarded the authorisation codes to OleOle for the domain name avfcblog.com. I set this site up because I could not get in and continue blogging and no further communication was made to me on the domain transfer at that time or informing me that my account was closed.

I received an email late on Thursday night acknowledging this and offering me a way back in, but the content of that email made it difficult for me to agree or even accept that there was the potential for a working relationship with OleOle, but that was a personal decision and the content of that email, while three OleOle bloggers and three OleOle staff members have seen, will not be published by me.

If I had my time again, I would have insisted that the domain transfer be transferred at the end of the three years written into the agreement, but I didn't, it was just a conversation. I have learned a lesson.

Basically, five years hard work has gone and I have thought long and hard about continuing to blog about our club and I've still not reached a final decision, but I still love waking in the morning and heading straight to the online papers and Google news, so I suppose that sort of suggests I won't give it up just yet, but losing five years hard work and all that great content has been and still is gut wrenching and the decision wasn't taken lightly.

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