As he walked down the room shaking hands with supporters at Thursday’s Villa Trust AGM, I wondered how many people realised they were shaking hands with new chairman Steve Hollis.
Appointed only the week before, not a great deal was known about him then and, after listening to him speak, I’m not sure we know that much more about him now. Together with Tom Fox, they listened to questions from the floor and then spoke without really answering a question the way the audience would have liked them to.
Hollis said that ‘the reality is my background is not football’. Well I think we guessed that when he said he wasn’t concerned about going through a ‘relegation phase’ (a phase? relegation happens at the point you move from one division to another – it doesn’t carry on any longer than that).
He also upset more than one supporter at the AGM by describing us as ‘Customers’. Obviously his business background kicked in when he also said ‘this football club has huge assets’ (we assume he wasn’t talking about the players).
A little bit later, Tom Fox piped up ‘I’m the CEO, I’m accountable, I’m responsible. It’s my responsibility to make sure we don’t put ourselves in the position we are in right now’. But then immediately went and ruined that by adding he was only accountable for anything that had happened on ‘his watch’.
What everybody in the room wanted to know is what our plans for the future are
• Short term – what are we doing in the transfer window?
• Medium term – are we planning for Championship football next year?
• Long term – how do we ensure we don’t get in this position again?
But we just didn’t hear any substance, only sound bites. They talked about spending money but not getting results, the fact that revenue had only risen 14% in the last ten years, about the poor scouting network and all the great work Tom Fox has done on ‘his watch’.
Fox expressed the opinion that ‘in terms of the global market we’ve actually spent quite a bit of time in the past 14/15 months on this area’. No payday loan or Asian betting sponsors for Aston Villa (alienating a few billion potential fans there then) – we have a quality American shirt sponsor with another quality (ie American) shirt manufacturing deal to come. What next? Playing a couple of home games in the States – bet Villa vs MK Dons would be a great draw.
So no, we didn’t learn a lot we didn’t already know. Randy Learner may have given up day to day control of Aston Villa but Steve Hollis looks so far to be little more than Randy’s puppet. So does that mean that Tom Fox has been demoted to Steve Hollis’ puppet?