From Threadneedle Street to Villa Park

In 2008 the worst financial crisis in living memory hit the UK and the world. Sat at his desk in Threadneedle Street was Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England. He had been there for five years and would stay for another five.

Yet after just 74 days he resigns from the Aston Villa board. What makes a man who could handle the pressure and challenge of the first appointment go on and ditch the seemingly less daunting latter?

Now I feel like a hypocrite. My last post said I wanted to get back to talking about football and not about board room shuffles, but this just pushed me over the edge. What a mess this is. Shortly after relegation and two newly appointed board members resign. I’ve read the comments after Damian’s post with some suggesting the club may be about to sold, some saying it’s clearing the way for a manager or perhaps it was a salary reduction from Lerner on confirmation of relegation.

Maybe it’s all these things, maybe it’s none but what concerns me is what King and Bernstein found in their short time at the club.

In King and Bernstein we had two experienced business leaders. Aside from considering King as a Villa fan, they are both people that have had considerable success in their careers and actually didn’t need the money or the hassle of Villa, but chose to come on board. What they may have found worries me. It’s these two lines that keeps going round in my head from Bernstein’s letter:

For this new structure to work it required all at the club to accept new disciplines

The solutions are radical and do not lend themselves to compromise.

Change in any large organisation takes time. However, when you come up against years of bad practice, when people are not willing to accept change, it spells trouble. This is what concerns me. I worry that what happened is far simpler than the explanations offered thus far.

King and Bernstein went in, believing their experience and leadership could be of value. They proposed a plan, tried to start it and found requests for compromise after compromise and knew they were on a hiding to nothing (sound familiar Remi?). Much like Damian has written about managers like Moyes not willing to accept interference, I suspect a similar thing has gone on here.

I doubt that the ex-Governor of the Bank of England or the ex FA Chairman could probably stomach an organisation unwilling to accept their changes when the situation is as dire as it is at Villa. Who is unwilling? Well from King’s words, this is a result of ‘recent communications between the owner of Aston Villa and members of the Football board'.

One thing I don’t accept and I’m afraid Damian and I disagree here is that this is a good thing. I see two people who have faced equally big, if not bigger challenges before and yet they have opted to ditch us. I think they found an unworkable situation that they knew could only harm themselves and their reputations.

I bet for a moment King wished he was back in that desk in Threadneedle Street with just the governments of the world to work with rather than Randy Lerner.