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4 May 2016

Aston Villa owners threaten 500 jobs

Scott Jones

Fans of relegated Premier League football club Aston Villa will have been pleased the club's end-of-season awards were scrapped - after a woeful season on and off the pitch. But many will be dismayed by management's announcement that 500 jobs will go.

Bosses have told a third of Villa's employees they will lose their jobs. This includes full-time, part-time and match-day staff. The move will be a bitter pill to swallow for workers, many of them low paid, when owner Randy Lerner is worth 736 million.

Lee Barron, regional secretary of the Trade Union Congress and a Villa fan himself, said: "Everybody is just sitting there open-mouthed at the moment."

Though dismal performances by players have contributed to Villa's downfall, the real blame lies with the owners. They purposefully underinvested in the club - looking to make short-term profits, and sell in the long term. American businessman Lerner joined a host of other dodgy billionaire club owners in 2006, looking to get his snout in the trough of Premier League riches.

It's another example of owners sucking clubs dry, leaving fans and the community to pick up the pieces. Lerner shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

Unions and the Premier League should demand he dip into his own pocket. He could use the 'parachute payments' the Premier League makes to help relegated clubs survive the drop in sponsorship income to safeguard jobs.

But ultimately, clubs like Villa should be owned and run democratically by the legitimate owners: supporters and the community.