Let’s start this article off with a bang, shall we?
Aston Villa has perfected the "Feeder Club" role in the English Premier League.
They have become the stepping-stone for dozens of great players, who use the spotlight and stardom to boost their popularity before finally leaving for a club less-desperate for their talents. Yet despite the significant roster blows, Villa seems to suffer every single summer transfer window. They always find themselves playing competitive against top teams and exceeding fans (and my) expectations. Every preseason I annually preach, “It’s going to be a rough year for Villa,” and yet am pleasantly surprised in May to find the underrated team hold their own and safely survive the drop and any humiliation that comes with it. But how do they do it? How does a team that generously gives for a living take points away from some of the best in the league each season? It is a style and strategy worth your attention and recognition.
Here is a list of Villa’s last three seasons, summer moves and overall net profit from the transfer window.
Preseason Key Losses
Diamonds in the Rough
Summer Transfer +-
Neg 10 Million
Pos 15 Million
Young, Carew, Downing
N’ Zogbia, Hutton
Pos 20 million
From the chart you can clearly see that despite losing key players, Villa always seems to use the extra cash to refuel and continue to be competitive. Even in 2009 when the club was negative in the summer transfer window, Aston Villa still managed to buy Stewart Downing from Middlesbrough for nearly half the price they sold him for in 2011. Some other big Transfer Wins are listed below:
Gareth Barry—Signed in 1997 for two million. Sold in 2009 for 12 million.
James Milner—Signed in 2008 for 12 million. Sold in 2010 for 26 million.
Ashley Young—Signed in 2007 for eight million. Sold in 2011 for 20 million.
Just between those three players the club has made over 36 million, more than enough to re-spend on experienced players like Darren Bent and Richard Dunne as well as replenish the roster with young guns.
If one thing is for certain it is that the club knows how to make a profit by working the transfer market. When a club can still stay competitive despite such dramatic roster reconfiguration every summer, you know the strategy is working.
And here is the strategy for those of you still befuddled on how to read the graph: Buy diamonds in the rough (and veteran supporters), develop them, sell them for twice the original cover price and repeat. It is a process that is easy enough to be used by almost any team in the EPL, yet only one seems to have the plan down pat. Only one has perfected the “Feeder” system.
Whatever you think of Villa is personal, but you have to admit that their feeding and restocking club style is absolutely essential to a league that is simply getting heavier and heavier at the top. However, they are in no way a martyr for the league, as the team still finds itself relatively successful economically as well as on the pitch year in and year out.
So far Villa is in contention for a Europa league spot and is undefeated in the English Premier League. The club may have a tough time staying unbeaten in the upcoming weeks with City, Sunderland and Tottenham all in sight, but hey, I’ve been wrong about AVFC before, and for entertainment's sake, I really hope they keep me unexpectedly surprised.