Connect with us


Aston Villa Reminds Us What Football is All About

This is what football is truly all about.

This is what football is truly all about.

You may have heard that football is about striving for glory, trying your best to win whatever the circumstances, and pleasing the fans by giving it your all each and every fixture.  If you heard that, the person you heard it from is a liar.  Instead, as Aston Villa’s surrender to CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Cup today demonstrates, football is all about devoting your resources to whichever competition proves the most lucrative in television broadcast fees.  At the end of the day, that’s what brings all us fans together.

It’s like when my ten year old nephew told me he was playing in the final of Da Silva’s Glass Door and Framing PeeWee Sportsmanship Cup this weekend.  I asked him, “What about the lucrative popsicle deal you’ll get if you get top spot in Group C of the Bantam Kickers League?  Do you really want to risk all that for some stupid meaningless silverware, Billy?  Do you?”

Before he could answer his mother yanked him away to wipe his tears, but I’m certain he would have said playing to win isn’t as important as achieving a strategic league spot in order to maximize sponsorship and broadcast revenue streams.  UEFA certainly seems to have gotten into the spirit. Their new Europa League emphases the importance of rights auctions and product tie-ins, and only briefly mentions something about a soccer competition with some sort of cuppie-thing at the end of it.

In all the hustle and bustle of football, it’s easy to get caught up in all the glory and winning and striving to be the best team. But those things can end up distracting you from what’s really important.  Like whether to fund January transfers from day-to-day revenue or from the proceeds of player sales.  I mean, sure, it’s great, all that stuff about winning and Cup glory and respecting your fans, but don’t forget—at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: how does stadium equity fit into debt to asset ratios?  If you don’t know the answer to that, I suggest you re-examine why you got into football in the first place.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. Alex

    February 27, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Brilliant reasoning Jon, ‘Arry doesn’t know what he’s doing 🙂 Regarding Aston Villa, I am a big admirer of Martin O’Neill. He is one of the best managers in the world in my opinion and created a side with limited resources that is fighting for the top 4, and I think that he’s damn right in putting that objective as a priority in front of the team. UEFA cup is a farce (though after seeing Real vs. Pool in the CL, I wonder where that competition is going too…) and as a manager you have to be able to think long-term. It’s curious, that many people don’t complain when Arsenal, ManU or Chelsea field under-strength sides in competitions…

    On a further note if I were ManU chiefs, I would surely appoint O’Neill as successor to Fergie. No better manager out there to do that job!

  2. Jon at Just-Football

    February 27, 2009 at 5:16 am

    I see what you’re getting at Richard, but if anything I think it would have perhaps been better to focus contempt on Spurs rather than Villa. Villa just simply do not have the numbers to go for both 4th place and a UEFA Cup too. Given their current position in the league, with Arsenal now closing in, if something had to give I would say O’Neill has done the right thing. Better to finish in the top 4 and be able to genuinely build from a position of Champions League strength than to overstretch, get to a European semi-final and finish 5th.

    Spurs on the other hand are going nowhere in the league and will definitely not qualify for Europe unless they beat Man United on Sunday. You have to ask, what would be the point of them even winning that game, because Redknapp has already been crying about the fixture pile up Europe brings with it. Spurs are not going to get relegated and have little else going for them this season, so to simply disregard Europe so casually in my opinion was pathetic. I’m not even sure if he recognises the irony of complaining about how playing in Europe is creating a distraction to the Carling Cup final, when the ultimate reward of the Carling Cup is the very poison he is moaning about in the first place.

  3. Andy Morris

    February 27, 2009 at 4:43 am

    Yes, Villa want Champions League quallification to “maximize sponsorship and broadcast revenue streams.”

    Or, to put it another way, to “be able to attract world class players, pay for them, build a large talented squad and achieve long-term success on multiple fronts.”

    Who’d want that, eh? Nah, your right, we should just concentrate on finishing fifth every year and not bother the mighty exalted Big Four.

    Martin’s playing the Long Game. You’ll see.

  4. The Gaffer

    February 27, 2009 at 2:16 am

    I feel sorry for the Villa fans who splashed their cash to travel to Moscow to watch a B-side play in the UEFA Cup. I feel sorry for the Spurs fans who packed White Hart Lane last night to watch their B-side too. It seems there are very few footballers who play for the love of the game. No wonder that FC United has become so popular.

    The Gaffer

  5. ArthurArseGooner

    February 27, 2009 at 1:42 am

    i hope i spelled bland right, it might be blande. there should be a spell check.. …richard you should work at a library.

  6. ArthurArseGooner

    February 27, 2009 at 1:40 am

    here’s a joke, a waiter brings a guy his soup, the guy asks waiter why is your finger in my soup, the waiter says it hurts and the doctor said to keep it in a warm place, the guy says then why dont you stick it up your ass, and the waiter says, it was already there before, but i had to take it out to bring you your soup….

    thats a joke richard, your writing is bland.

  7. ArthurArseGooner

    February 27, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Richie, your comedy is as funny as watching paint dry.

  8. jp wilson

    February 26, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    so you would have picked to field a full side, when you could break the top 4 hold?

    mm… no wonder your a writer. (no offense)

    i also noticed u didnt pick on spurs.. who are going for what? carling cup? a torni ten times below that of uefa!?

    im a coach. a high school coach. and u got it wrong.

    UTV rather see 4th place, then uefa top 4.

  9. Richard Whittall

    February 26, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Well Matt, I see what you’re getting at, BUT, my own view is that a competition is a competition is a competition; if you play in it, you should play to win. UEFA didn’t invent the UEFA Cup yesterday in order to make a quick buck—it has a long history. But their adjustments over the years and more recently with the Europa Cup reflect their desire to make money over developing a worthy competition.

  10. Matt Booher

    February 26, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    While I see where you’re trying to take this post and don’t fully disagree with the sentiment, you ridicule Villa for not fully investing in a tournament that in a subsequent sentence you cite as a problem with the modern game. So which is it? The UEFA Cup, er Europa League, is a second-rate tournament and I would rather see the Villans chase FA Cup and Champions League glory over what is essentially a useless tournament intended to satiate the very interests rightfully mocked in the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »