On Sunday morning, a meeting was held involving chairmen of various Lions’ Clubs, the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust and representatives from a few different Aston Villa forums and fansites, including our own, and the Chief Executive of Aston Villa, Tom Fox. The purpose of the meeting was not clear prior to Sunday morning but it was nonetheless a welcome opportunity for fans to engage with those running our great club.
As the meeting began, Tom Fox made it clear that the primary reason for this meeting was to discuss several rumours in the local press on the subject of the selection of players and who makes the final decisions on player signings. He wanted to clear up what he regarded as misreporting. In no uncertain terms, Fox stated that, despite contradictory claims in the media, all players signed were rubber-stamped by the manager in charge at the time. Tom Fox seemed irked by claims in the media that this was not the case and felt he needed to set the record straight on this matter. He also made it abundantly clear that recruitment, player selection and other related processes at Aston Villa are no different to those at any football club in the Premier League, or indeed around the world, and that any suggestions that players had been signed without the manager’s agreement were simply untrue.
Several other issues, such as the club’s position and the public pledge by owner Randy Lerner in May to resign and appoint a new chairman if he failed to find a buyer for the club, were discussed during the hour-long meeting. Fox informed those present that a new chairman is still being sought. He indicated that talks are progressing, with a decision on this matter very close, and that another board member will also be appointed. No time frame was given; I am sure none of us expected one as this is a choice that needs to be made with the utmost care to ensure that we get the correct person at the helm.
The role of the Director of Football was also explained and it was made perfectly clear that Hendrik Almstadt’s role at the club is not to sign players or get involved in the selection of players. Fox explained that Hendrick is responsible for the support network at the club such as the medical team, academy and other areas, which allows the manager to focus his attention entirely on the first team and its performances.
Tom Fox admitted that many many mistakes have been made over many years at the club. He suggested that the club’s leadership team is trying very hard to correct these mistakes but that change takes time; there is no quick fix. This comment related to revenue above and beyond television deals, money which the club has total control of. Fox indictated that personnel have been put in place to improve this aspect of the club’s work. To this end, a new kit manufacturer deal is in the pipeline which will benefit the club greatly. Details of the deal may be announced as early as February.
With reference to other “mistakes”, Fox commented on the Fabian Delph situation, saying that no player of his quality should have been allowed to enter the final year of a contract as he was. He added that Delph’s departure did not leave a sour taste in his mouth as Delph did something that he did not need to do, and that most players would not have done in his situation, in signing a new contract.
It was also revealed that Tom Fox and Rémi Garde are this week flying out to meet with the club’s owner, Randy Lerner, to discuss club matters. I am sure the impending transfer window will be high on the agenda.
Tom Fox did seem committed and sincere in the discussions and stated that he and other high profile figures at the club are under no illusions as to the plight the club is in, suggesting that we are not preparing for relegation and that Rémi Garde is here for the long haul, regardless of what the end of the season brings. One of his final comments was that six years ago when we walked outside our home our neighbours were Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and we lived in a nice part of town. When we do the same now, we see burnt out cars and find ourselves in a totally different situation, which is one that everyone involved with the club is working hard to change!
Post by Mike Steede