The spreadsheet has been built by Randy Lerner's advisers. It tells an incontravertible truth. He can make money out of Aston Villa by being just slightly less shite than the bottom three.
The money men have done their homework. They've reassured Lerner that Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn are completely toss. And, furthermore, that Wolves are on their way to complete tossdom. The unthinkable is indeed unthinkable. Aston Villa will not be relegated. I'm up for not getting relegated. In fact, I'm getting a "Villa are staying up" teeshirt printed tomorrow. I'll wear it to the next game I don't attend.
The suits around Lerner have also had their calculators out. They've worked out that selling Villa's best players amortises some of the debt owed to his Lernership, and cuts the wage bill at the same time. Of course, this frees up cash to secure the regular mismanagement fees and disinterest charges Lerner levies on the club. Who knows - maybe we'll get into the Ernst Waterhouse PMGK Top 10 for the most austerely mismanaged club in the Premier League basement.
Of course, it is our fault. Because Randy Lerner can fall back on one solid truth. Aston Villa fans love Aston Villa. Aston Villa fans are addicted to Aston Villa. Aston Villa fans will threaten not to come back to Villa Park, but they will. They will. They just will. The income bit of the P&L is assured if the fans keep coming (which they will) and if the Sky TV cameras keep coming (which they will, providing Villa are a smidgeon less shit than the bottom three).
It all makes perfect financial sense. Any accountant would be proud of the Lernerplan. Sell the luxuries. Cut the overheads. If income falls a bit, the operating profit is still higher. High enough to pay yourself a fat dividend (sorry, management fee).
And all of this, all of this, relies on a simple piece of American ultra-capitalist opportunism. The British football fan is a consumer, but doesn't know it. So the rules of the supplier-consumer relationship are broken - and this is Nirvana for the American (read also Russian or Arab) opportunist. Why? Because in any other supplier-consumer relationship there is a trade-off between price and product/service which represents value to the consumer. So if you pay little, you don't get much - and if you pay lots, you get something special.
Lerner is in marketing fucking dreamland. Because he's broken that classic relationship - and has found his Garden of Eden in Birmingham. A place where the rivers run with beer and tits hang off the trees. A place where you can serve up complete dross, but people will still queue to buy it. It's the Chum Bucket with Krusty Krab prices, and everyone's queueing up. Guess who the joke is on...Clue: go and look in the mirror. You're paying to go to Le Gavroche, and then you're being given a kebab. With no chilli sauce.
So sign up here to the Vision: "Slightly Less Shite than the Bottom Three". It has a certain ring about it. Don't you think?