Opinion

The Cost of the Past

Earlier this week, news broke that Aston Villa wayward striker Ross McCormack will be receiving a rather massive bonus if Villa get promoted back into the Premier League. While players receiving bonuses in the event of a promotion is not a foreign idea, McCormack has not played a single game for Aston Villa this season. Sky Sports has reported that McCormack earns, for lack of a better term, £2.3 million in base salary per year. With the bonus added, McCormack could be walking away with more than £3.2m without even kicking a ball in a Claret & Blue jersey this campaign.

This begs the question… are statistic and performance bonuses a part of the reason why a massive club like Villa are in the predicament they are in at the present moment?

Fending off Financial Fair Play, a few players on the books on high wages that never play, and now the McCormack bonus news… but, the Scotsman isn’t the only one bleeding the club dry.

Minus the recent fanfare of Gabby Agbonlahor seemingly leaving Aston Villa in the summer, his departure will be somewhat of a financial boost for the club in its own right. While the opinion of Agbonlahor differs depending on who you’re asking, his £55,000 a week salary will not be missed and could potentially help Villa sign some of their younger starlets in the coming off-season.

Micah Richards is another Aston Villa vacuum on the wage bill. Richards is on £50,000 per week and there are rumours circulating that Richards has a clause in his contract that will see him fetch a bonus if Villa get promoted as well.

So, how did Villa get to this point at the end of the day?

Unusually high wages and bonuses in contracts can be traced back to one man who we would rather not talk about any longer.

That man is Randy Lerner.

The Lerner regime was known to throw money around like a toddler throws their toys in the living room; wildly and unpredictably. It is a giant reason why Aston Villa are in the Championship, sadly. The money spent on players that were undeserving of such high wages is shocking. And let’s not forget that Ashley Westwood, Jores Okore and Joleon Lescott were all compensated £30,000 per week or more when Aston Villa were doomed to be relegated in 2015. While Villa are looking to cement promotion to the Premier League through the Championship playoffs this season, the past needs to be respected in the event that Villa go back up.

While new Villa owner Tony Xia can be at fault for the McCormack signing, you can’t really fault the owner in that instance. Before signing for Villa, McCormack was well respected as a striker and even led the Championship in goals the season before being bought by Villa. At the time, it was a show of pure intent by Villa. Sure, maybe too much money was spent. But hindsight is always sharp. You can remember the buzz around McCormack coming to Villa Park like it was yesterday. No one could have foreseen the bust up between McCormack and Villa gaffer Steve Bruce. No one could have foreseen ‘GateGate’, the horrible and ugly situation of McCormack not showing up to training and then blaming the security gates at his home being inoperable. And if you had a bet on McCormack being sent out on loan to Melbourne City and scoring 14 goals in 17 games, e-mail me…I need some lottery numbers.

To use a phrase often heard from the lips of Steve Bruce, no matter what the fate of Aston Villa is this season, one thing is for certain. Aston Villa need to ‘box clever’ financially moving forwards. No more insane performance bonuses in contracts. No more purchasing players that are well beyond their prime on high wages. No more outrageous transfer fees for players without due course research of their personality. No more Randy Lerner-esque financial decisions. Getting back to the Premier League could kick off a new era for Villa financially and spiritually and that’s exactly what the AVFC supporters are hoping for.

 Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)
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