Is Mervyn King of the Castle?
WHILE other Premier League clubs were snapping up new players (or a new manager in Manchester City’s case), Aston Villa had a very quiet transfer window with no new faces appearing at Villa Park. However, a few days after the window shut, they announced that lifelong fan and former Governor of the Bank of England would be joining the board at the club, who are currently bottom of the table, eight points from safety with thirteen games remaining. He is the second figure from the field of economics to become involved with a Premier League club this season, following the appointment of former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls at Norwich City.
These two appointments say a lot for how football is seen by many at the top of English clubs as a business, which just happens to become a sport most Saturdays. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise with the amount of money that is now available in the game. The newest TV deal is bringing in over £5billion over 3 years for the Premier League, meaning footballing results are bound to have large implications for the finances of the club. The well-documented problems of Portsmouth and Bolton, with the latter currently in £170 million of debt, are testament to this.
Does this make appointments like this necessary? Does the amount of money involved in football warrant having someone with experience in the financial world on the board? Although King is a fan of the club, the Chairman Steve Hollis does admit that he’s been hired because of his experience of dealing with problems during the recession, saying the appointment will help the club back towards ‘successful times’. A similar sentiment was shared by Norwich when Ed Balls was appointed Chairman, hoping that his ‘economic know-how’ would help the club over the long-term.
There is no doubt that many fans will have reservations about these figures outside of the world of football having a big say about the running of the club. It is a very different world from the one King and Balls have been used to over the last few years, with supporters being more bothered about what happens on the pitch, than the profits that are made off it. Obviously, clubs don’t want to be in a mountain of debt just to keep in the Premier League, but there’s no point making a lot of profit but being stuck in League One.
King and Balls may have some work to do to prove to the fans they’re in it for the love of the club, not just to build up their retirement funds. But, with money in the game growing and growing every year, expect to see more establishment figures moving from finance to football, to try and help clubs kee control of their new-found wealth.
Featured image: Standard