[quote_center]”When I talk to him now, he sounds like someone who brought the club last week. He really is enthused and energised” – Fox on Lerner[/quote_center]
Last week the newspapers were full of stories of Randy Lerner being willing to slash the asking-price of the club to 100m in order to get rid. Having invested roughly three times that amount as Villa chairman (including the initial purchase fee), on face value it would hardly be seen as a wise move for any astute business man.
Dawn of the Fox
Enlisting the services of Tom Fox as Villa’s new CEO also suggested that Lerner wasn’t running for the hills just yet. Unless Fox was part of a very imminent take over and the new owner wanted his man in place while the paper work was going through. Alas, this isn’t the case.
In the Tom Fox video interview that the club has just released (see below), the new Villa CEO admits that the chance to work with Lerner was the main reason he took the role at the club.
“I’ve told everybody who has asked me, I came here to work for Randy Lerner,” said Fox. “My whole background has been as a marketer, a builder, as someone who can organise and help things grow and I came in to do that with Randy. It was my relationship with him that made me as interested as I was to come to Aston Villa.”
Based on that quote alone, it seems Lerner is here to stay.
Fox goes on to talk about what appears to be a reboot in Lerner’s interest for the club.
“When I talk to him now, he sounds like someone who brought the club last week. He really is enthused and energised. He said something when we first met, he said I just want to start to have fun with it again and I don’t think that’s a lot for the owner to ask.”
This doesn’t sound like PR talk to cover the cracks as a new owner is sort out. In fact, it sounds like the process of trying to sell the club has given the Villa chairman fresh food for thought. To leave now would be considered a failure both on a personal level and a financial one.
It does raise the question though why Villa fans haven’t heard any evidence of our chairman’s new-found drive for the club from the horse’s mouth? Or is he simply keeping his options open in terms of a sale?
New Villa Direction
Fox goes on to explain that football has become a different beast over the last decade or so, with it becoming such a financially driven game. “I’ve spent enough time in the business of sport and world of football, to understand that it is a game driven on your ability to spend on your squad”. A new long-term is needed in terms of financial infrastructure to maximise the club’s potential, as he points out in the interview, giving the example of Arsenal’s unpopular move from Highbury at the time when the Gunners were at the peak of their powers on the pitch, as successful long-term strategy.
‘Maybe Villa haven’t kept the pace with a club like Arsenal, but that doesn’t mean to say that’s the way it always has to be,” he said.
“Five years ago at Arsenal we needed to invest into people and capability and I see the same opportunity here. All the ingredients are there, we just need to put some investment in the right areas and create the right plan and we can get back to where we deserve to be.”
Fox projects Villa as a club that should be competing for domestic cups and being in with a shout of at least the Europa League (i.e. very much embedded in the top half of the league), and is convinced it’s “not a wild dream, but a journey we can go on.”
He seems convinced that Randy Lerner very much in for the ride.
“We can talk about the business all you want, but the business is here to enable the football and the football is here to generate pride amongst the fanbase,” says Fox. “Randy’s a fan and I think he’s starting to feel that pride again for the club. He sounds fully engaged to me.”
The Full Tom Fox Interview
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