Diversity is something that's been on the forefront of my mind recently and that's mainly due to our support of Unusual Efforts, a blog to give a female voice to soccer.
The role of women in my own life has expanded. It's not like I ever dared disrespect women, but I'd have never picked Chun-Li over Ken or Ryu, you know? I'm a man and I identified with men. I didn't like female singers, nor writers. That wasn't me being or trying to be or attempting to be sexist, it was just me refusing to test new waters. Eventually, I grew up. Carrie Brownstein with her Sleater Kinney, and the riotous Bikini Kill became easier and easier to listen to. The writing of Kelly Sue Deconnick comes up more than frequently in a list of my favourite comic books. Fiona Staples' art is something I cannot stop looking at. Heck, even then that doesn't make me a feminist, it just makes me bloody well realise that everyone on Planet Earth is capable of creating stuff that everyone can get into and enjoy.
So how the hell does this relate to Aston Villa? At all?
Aston Villa are stale, fat, old and weak. Other teams are licking their lips at the mere chance to carve another slice from it's broken body.Villa are led by an owner who hasn't stepped foot into Aston for an absurd amount of time. Villa are led by people with zero experience of their respective roles.
More importantly, every single person in a role of responsibility at Aston Villa seems to have the same background.
Educated. Respected. Old. White.
I'm not saying that there are quotas to be met, I wouldn't want a woman put on the board just to fill an ethical role as a result of a moral quandary.
No, I want people from different backgrounds of all colours, shapes, creeds and sizes to represent Aston Villa. Why? Because currently, we are led by a bunch of career ‘yes men'. No one of any experience is currently leading Villa and that is disastrous. I can guarantee that those in charge have similar ideas, no one will go against the grain.
I'm about to commit Villa blogger suicide here, but Villa have needed someone like (but not) Karen Brady for a long time. Someone to take responsibility, someone to be harsh, brutal, cut the damn cord. I may disagree with her political standpoints and she may be an utterly awful human being (I've heard enough stories), but Villa are being mismanaged into the abyss and my god I'd sell myself to the devil to save them.
Brady's West Ham are everything Villa should be and then some. Cut price tickets in a new stadium whilst being destined for Europe. A profitable playing squad full of smart purchases based on a combination of relentless scouting and sound analysis. The Hammers are living the dream and rightly so. Karen would be a large part of that. However if the Hammers are using tax-payers money like the NFL to fund their shiny new stadium, they can go and fuck themselves.
Villa need someone with ‘balls' to lead them, to show the bravery to change. In fact, the only time I've witnessed this bravery is last week, when Villa's PR head Tommy Jordan risked a mauling from the press by hauling Remi Garde away from idiotic and downright slanderous questioning that only served to undermine everyone. Villa need to be a club that doesn't take that kind of rubbish off the pitch in the hope that it reflects into a no-nonsense attitude on pitch. It's not about massive leaps, but small steps.
And heck, maybe someone who isn't from a privileged background or of the normal boardroom mould could be that step. Villa aren't doing a good job of relating to fans right now, and they can't be blamed for that. It's a damn hard job right now! But to be based in Aston and do such a bad job of representing an extremely diverse area of Birmingham? That's sad.
Aston Villa need more diverse representation because football clubs should be a mirror image of the area they are based in (in an ideal world, though). This means that Villa should look to train and coach young kids of all races from the area for off-the-pitch roles, this means that Villa should look for those who can diversify the board and the leading staff at AVFC. How can Aston Villa even attempt to be a 21st century football club if those at the top seemingly fulfill the role of a 'yes man' to a single person? No.
At Villa, we have an ex-banker, a white-collar 'business (see buzzword) expert', a walking talking corporation and a rich guy. That's it. That's the deal. There's no other opinions, no other experience. Everyone involved with the club at the highest level comes from an identical background. Bankers, CEO's and wealth aren't the most exciting titles to be thrown around after those exact moulds of people pretty much took the money and ran when things got bad in the 00's.
Things are bad at Aston Villa right now. There are deep lying issues which can be fixed. There are problems and not just with investment. There is an air of entitlement, an obnoxious attitude and an almost fascist approach to fans who dare speak out and maybe the problem is that the people running Villa come from the same walk of life. They might not know what it's like to be you, or me, her or they.
Aston Villa need more representation from different areas of life to help them make intelligent and well thought out angles. Aston Villa need more experience, more moxy, more intelligence and something fresh. Aston Villa don't need to put an asian person, a woman or a black person on the board 'just because'. They need different ideas, experiences and an almost complete reversal in attitude to hit the heights that West Ham have hit. The heights that Villa tasted not so long ago.
A broad range of experiences and spectrums exist outside of Mervyn King, Steve Hollis and Tom Fox. Aston Villa have pretty much got three of the same guy. I'm not saying aim for those who aren't successful, but I'm one hundred percent sure that successful people can be found in all shapes, colours and sizes. Aston Villa need that diversity in their boardroom because a crisis may very well be right around the corner. If a crisis does come, a diverse Villa board will be in a better position to deal with it if they are manned by people from all walks of life. Different attitudes, skill-sets and experiences give Villa an angle that they desperately need right now to plan and fight for their future.