Brighter days ahead, it seems. The cynicism which surrounded much of last season – the ire and anger – has subsided for now. The exit door finally slammed into Randy Lerner’s backside on his way out of Villa Park. He didn’t feel it, of course; his wallet was too full of Dr Xia’s money and padded the blow.
This is the new future. The veil of secrecy which shrouded the club under Lerner has been lifted and optimism abounds. Not quite gambolling like the first spring lambs in hillside meadows but certainly making the world a brighter place.
Hope does that. The impending arrival of a new season does that. A New Hope. The Star Wars analogy works, we just have to pray that this doesn’t turn into Episode VII where all the same old characters run around and rehash old story lines.
Earlier, Dr Xia used Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, to publicise that season ticket sales were going well. 18,000 and rising, with the aim of another 5,000 before the Football League campaign kicks off.
I wonder how well they would have done under the old regime. It’s almost inconceivable that the numbers would have been that high such was the underlying mutinous atmosphere. Almost but not quite.
Perhaps they would; football supporters are notorious gluttons for punishment and there’s something which gets into your veins, that you can’t escape; that you don’t want to escape.
The openness is welcomed. We don’t own the club but contrary to what some will tell you, we are stakeholders in business parlance. There are some things I believe we are entitled to know.
How well it is doing financially is one of them; I don’t want to analyse the amount of net debt or work out what earnings ratios we have but I care we’re being well run, particularly with the League entitled to punish miscreants. Entitled to but doesn’t always.
Football is big business and the owners want a return on their investment. I want one on mine; we pay our money and that can’t be separated from other revenues; it funds the club’s activities and whilst I get most of my return on the pitch every game – the value of investments can go up as well as down – I also want to see some going on player purchases.
But more than at any time in Lerner’s reign, Dr Xia knows the value of a positive message and is apparently a regular user of social media; will it prove to be the club’s official mouthpiece?
23k season tickets for a return to the Championship? Last season’s average attendance was 33,645 but the last time the crowd exceeded that was the Liverpool debacle in February.
The average for the other home league games this year is 31,168. I feel more optimistic at the thought attendances might not be that different. Could you imagine the Lerner regime managing that?
Positive PR, players reinforcing the message with performances? I suppose I’m just looking for a new hope!