Since the drop to the Championship, Financial Fair Play (FFP) has become something of a MacGuffin for Aston Villa supporters in terms of the running of their club. In the film world, a MacGuffin, a term originally popularised by Alfred Hitchcock, is a plot device – an object or goal – that normally has little real explanation that motivates the actions of the protagonists of the film and moves the story along. Think the briefcase in Pulp Fiction or the ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The narrative of Aston Villa in the 2018/19 season will very much be dictated by the football MacGuffin of FFP. The three letters that are often banded about by the manager, owner, CEO, journalists and fans, often with little clarity of the club’s exact financial situation (with few privy to actual up-to-date accounts) or what the actual penalty and consequences would be.
Yes, Villa were in financial turmoil and there is still a risk of breaking FFP, but what Villa did have was time to address the situation. This week they found the first solution, which was fresh investment through new majority owners.
it’s obviously in the media’s interest to keep the status of the likes of Jack Grealish and James Chester, as ‘more than likely to leave Villa’. It means that every day they can write a rumour article (or six) on them leaving and keep the clicks-a-coming.
Even before the investment came, in terms of FFP, Villa still had two transfer windows to help balance the books with the help of revenue from player sales. So, any lowball offers for the likes of Grealish or Chester this summer would only really be considered towards the end of the window.
But, it was unlikely there would be any jumping through FFP hoops to sacrifice a team’s best players. After all, the best way to get out of the current situation is ultimately to get promoted, so it helps to keep your best men. Players would only be sold off in panic, if financially speaking, the sh*t really was about to hit the fan – i.e. not being able to pay tax bills and entering into administration.
The new investment soon iced that scenario. As well as the new owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Eden’s fresh funds, they will also bring fresh eyes and possibilities to addressing FFP. Also, we now have the mitigating position of having new owners that are not guilty of Villa’s past dealings. As we saw with the dropping of AC Milan’s FFP Europa League ban, the positive behaviour of new owners can help.
Also, in MOMS opinion, people currently flapping about FFP and willing the sales of their best players now, would not make good poker players. In such situations, you play hardball and bluff until the end, in order to win when it comes to the bigger picture (i.e. getting Villa back to where they should be).
Bruce’s ‘No For Sale’ Sign
So, it’s no surprise to hear Villa boss Steve Bruce declaring today that the main aim of the remainder of the transfer window that shuts next week is to keep their best players.
“The one thing that the pair of them have said it that nobody is for sale,” said Bruce, on the club’s website, about the new Villa owners.
“That’s music to my ears – we don’t want to lose our best players.”
Of course, there is always a chance that a large and tempting bid may come in or the player themselves wants out, but it seems that Villa’s period of desperation is now officially over.
“We will now be doing our utmost to make sure these things do not happen and not let them go anywhere,” reiterated Bruce.
“The new owners coming in has helped.
“Let’s just hope the new owners can help get Villa back to where they should be.
“It’s going to take time but hopefully we can now look forward.”
First of all, looking forward to the August 9th transfer deadline day, when there will hopefully be no late exodus by messrs Grealish and Chester.