I’ve just come across an interesting article.
I’ll explain why I think it’s interesting at the very end, but for now, I’m just going to post it in it’s entirety.
Let us know what you think;
The Ignominy of Aston Villa
“Relegation looks all but certain for a legendary English club—a fate made painfully clear with a recent 6-0 drubbing
The Cleveland Browns should be thankful they don’t play in the English Premier League.
If they did they would be relegated—dropped, demoted, sent down because of their league-worst 3-13 record to a hypothetical NFL second division.
They would be, in short, Aston Villa.
Aston Villa is the worst team in the English Premier League this year. Going into last weekend’s game against Liverpool, Villa had won three of twenty-five games and were sitting at the bottom of the table. Barring a late-season miracle—like last year’s improbable escape by this year’s improbable league-leader Leicester City when they won six of their last eight matches—Aston Villa, along with two other bottom teams in the EPL, will suffer “the drop.”
It’s an ignominy made worse given Villa’s proud history: founding members of the Football League in 1888, founding members of the Premier League in 1992, winners of the European Cup in 1982, seven-time league winners, seven-time FA Cup winners. Villa is one of England’s legendary clubs. During the reign of Queen Victoria, Villa was huge.
But Queen Victoria is dead, and the fans filing into Villa Park last Sunday seemed resigned to the fact that their team’s chances of staying up were dead, too.
The game started in sunshine. But as shadows slipped across the pitch, so did Villa. Liverpool scored, then scored again. Liverpool ran rampant; the Villans seemed stuck in place. The only thing crisp about Villa were their striped claret and blue socks.
Relegation will have consequences. Foremost is the lost $100 million in broadcasting revenue ($140 million went to last year’s league champion, Chelsea), which accompanies the drop to the Championship (the EPL gives relegated teams “parachute payments” to lessen the financial blow, though that phrase can’t hide that someone is being pushed from a great height).
Relegation will be ugly. Not just lost revenue but lost relevance—lost players, lost fans, lost prestige. Arsenal was last relegated in 1913. Manchester United was relegated in 1974 but came back the year after. More often teams never recover, tumbling to lower leagues and struggling to return to the top flight. Remember Leeds? Fulham?
As the second half began, Liverpool scored a third time. Then a fourth, a fifth, a sixth. Kolo Touré, who had never scored for Liverpool, scored for Liverpool. The team scored four goals in thirteen minutes. Some teams don’t score four goals in a month. It was a scoring frenzy, a bloodbath. The traveling Liverpool fans were giddy and drunk, and would not stop singing. What started as a football match became a concert for singing Liverpool fans. The only drama was whether the Liverpool players might hurt themselves by pulling a hamstring in their celebratory scrums.
Villa fans streamed out of the park, shouting obscenities. One fan threw his hat on the field, then asked for it back.
Maybe he’ll want it next year. There’s always hope.
Because the other side of relegation is promotion. All over England this spring, the best teams in the lower divisions—like Hull and Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday —will be dreaming big. The top two teams in the Championship win promotion to the Premier League; the next four battle in a playoff for the third spot. These games may be the most exhilarating games in sport. Euphoric games, with players and fans bonded together by the dream of making it to Old Trafford next year. Where a single goal on a muddy field in Yorkshire could be worth $100 million. Imagine that!
Imagine, too, the wild possibilities that relegation and promotion could bring to sports in America. The Denver Broncos playing the Iowa Barnstormers. The Golden State Warriors visiting the Kalamazoo Pure. The El Paso Chihuahuas playing in Yankee Stadium.
Americans could learn something here. Not only the rough capitalism of relegation, but the irrational exuberance of promotion (many of the teams that are promoted go right back down the following year). Because in both they would experience something vital—real joy, real tears—the knowledge that rooting for ones team matters.
There is one American learning this lesson right now: Randy Lerner. Lerner is the American majority-owner of Aston Villa. He also used to be the owner of the Cleveland Browns.”
So what’s so interesting about that apart from the fact that I think it’s a good article, with what seems to be the author’s own really nice illustrations (in the actual article)?
Well, first off, it’s written by an American woman (it’s certainly written in American English).
But most importantly, is the paper it’s written in.
It’s the Wall Street Journal.
Which if Randy doesn’t read himself, you can bet his financial type friends/colleagues certainly do.
Which means it’s being brought up in conversation.
I’ll bet he’s not too keen on that article, as it makes him look a bit of a mug.
That’s a shame isn’t it? Now he might get an idea of what us fans think of him.
And yes, the Browns really are bottom at the moment in the NFL, along with Tennessee Titans.
After all this time since Lerner left.
Is that likely to be a similar legacy he leaves us with?
I really hope not.