Aston Villa have recently finalised a rebrand that will see their media products change in time for their relegation to the Football League Championship. In a season that has been nothing but catastrophic in terms of PR for the club, I'd hate to shovel more excrement right to their doorstep, but shovel it I shall.
If there's anything Aston Villa don't want me to say after a mixed reception to the rebrand, it's this - at best it's Tom Fox trying to put his own stamp on Villa and at worst it's awful, unintelligent cronyism that simply serves to let Villa file in line with the rest of England's unimaginative corporate image.
Frankly, in any other situation, this would be a non-story. It's only because Villa are treating everyone awfully by way of results right now that I'm so annoyed about this. One of our writers (Alex) pretty much nailed it with his take: £2 Million is a pittance to a Premier League club and the fact that the same sum worries Villa fans is just a statement of this season, even with the fact that the rebrand actually cost £80,000.
Let's get things straight - Villa's new un-inspired crest didn't cost £2 million. £2 million might be the cost for every piece of promotional material that leaves Villa Park. This money also has nothing to do with Villa's transfer window as a rebrand would (ideally) have been thought about or proposed as a sensible move for the club around 12 months ago.
In fact, Villa revealed that the 'entire project' cost £80,000 - which seems like an absolute steal for an entire rejuvenation of the clubs visual imaging.
The money involved and the timing aren't an issue. In fact, I welcome the rebrand. The real issue is that basic research into this move shows that it may not have been thought out as well as Villa fans would hope, in fact, it highlights such a basic lack of ingenuity, forward-thinking and creativity that I'm not surprised Villa are being relegated.
Football clubs, since the dawn of their existence, have always served as a pillar of the community. Victorians used them as social clubs, relaxing with friends in grounds to watch and play sports. They evolved to become relief from economic woes, political strife, and war, and they have gone on to become tools of left-wingers and right-wingers. They have been pushed to the brink of tragedy and back. And they have basically been told "grow up and get a job," a task that has ended with a sterilised atmosphere at most grounds. We're now at the stage where the most important letters for any club have changed from W-L-D to PLC. The stock market rises and falls like a position on the league table. Monetisation and profits are as key as results, if not moreso.
And that, readers, is okay. It's something we all have to accept in the 21st century. Wars are fought over money, banks make money from your money, people are killed over money. Money is the blood transfusion the world chose to have following bad experiences with oil and nuclear weapons. Capitalism, as despicable as some may find it, is the key to everything. That's a bitter pill to swallow, but swallow it you will.
In this context, it is of paramount importance that a club's brand sells. That's why the rebrand is of importance - it gets those who don't care about AVFC to invest with both their hearts and (hopefully) their wallets. A kid in the States might see the badge and think it's cool and that is alone in a vast ocean of importance as something key for Villa's future. Money needs to fly into the club from the four corners of the globe.
However, in that financial pursuit, it's becoming increasingly clear that Aston Villa just don't want anything to do with their fanbase and I won't pin that attitude on Randy Lerner, but I will force it straight to the door of the recently departed CEO of Villa, Tom Fox.
Fox's lack of awareness or even respect for Aston Villa seemed to start at the beginning of this season. Before Aston Villa's 2015/2016 debut at home on a Friday night to Manchester United, fans had organised (with their own money, by the way) a mosaic that read 'Prepared'. The club started off by backing this movement, known as 'Get The Holte End Back', but this was scrapped at the last minute and replaced with a mosaic that read 'Villans'.
Although just as impressive as a mosaic of Villa's slogan, it was rumoured that Tom Fox had vetoed the 'Prepared' mosaic. At the time, it was easy to take that as his way of saying "Villa are not prepared, so why would we have that as a mosaic?", which rubbed a number of Villa fans the wrong way. Furthermore, Fox was asked about this in January's AGM and it was in fact the first question he faced from Villa supporter group My Old Man Said who asked the former CEO about these rumours.
It's worth saying that MOMS agreed with the sentiment that Villa were 'unprepared', but asked the question to the CEO who responded that 'He had no idea where you [MOMS] heard that, I don't think I vetoed it and wouldn't have done it for that reason'.
Fox doesn't deny that he vetoed the mosaic. He simply says he had no idea where the connotation that he vetoed the design comes from. Also, he doesn't 'think he vetoed it'. Pull the other one, you cannot get it past me that a CEO of a football club simply doesn't know an action he took.
You can read more about their exchange here and I actively encourage you to do so, hindsight being the wonderful thing that it is. The veto on the 'prepared' mosaic achieved the exact same sentiment as showing it. It opened up a gaping wound for Villa that is still yet to close.