On Sunday December 13th, representatives of AVST were amongst a selection of supporters invited to meet Villa’s CEO, Tom Fox, at Villa Park. Tom had asked that the meeting be convened in order that he could put the record straight in respect of articles that have appeared in the press over the last few months. In particular, he was keen to explain how our approach to transfers works and to give his side of how the fabled “Transfer Committee” actually operates. As the meeting took place on a matchday, there was limited opportunity for a Q&A session on the back of what Tom shared with us.
It was clear that Tom was not happy with the negative slant being placed on the “Transfer Committee” by the press. He explained that, essentially, there were three people involved in making decisions on player acquisitions during the summer. These being Tim Sherwood, Paddy Reilly and Tom Fox. He explained how the manager identified the players that he wanted to move on and they then set about looking at players to replace them within the first team squad. Tom made it abundantly clear that the manager had the final say on all player acquisitions and had the right of veto at any point over suggestions made from the Scouting side of the club. Moreover, he pointed out that this is exactly how most clubs approach transfers, so he was clearly annoyed that this had been spun into something it was not. He cited the fact that the first question asked of Remi Garde after his appointment was whether he had the final say on transfers as evidence of how this had been spun in to reality by the various articles written about it.
Tom also clarified the role that Hendrik Almstadt plays at the club. There seems to be some confusion in the press as to what his Sporting Director role entails. Tom explained that he has no responsibility for player acquisitions and that he performs a role here that is very similar to that which he did at Arsenal. Essentially, Hendrik is there to manage the logistics of the things that support the playing squad. By way of example, he cited the manager identifying an issue with the medical team. It would then be Hendrik’s job to look into and resolve that issue. Tom was keen to make clear that the manager does not report to the Sporting Director, it is a role that is very much to assist the manager and to allow him to concentrate his focus on playing matters.
A brief Q&A followed, where there was comment around Fabian Delph and his release clause (Tom acknowledged that the club should never have let him get in to the last year of his contract in the first place), as well as discussion about funds for the January transfer window. It was clear that there is an expectation that Remi Garde will do better with our current crop of players than the previous incumbent but that they were not ruling out the need for new blood.
Perhaps the most interesting thing that came out of the meeting was an update on something we had recently queried with the club. This being Randy Lerner’s comments in the summer that, should he fail to find a suitable buyer, a new chairman would be found. Tom advised that the announcement of the new chairman would be made imminently, as well as that of the appointment of an additional board member.
At the conclusion of the meeting it was agreed that events such as this should be held more frequently, and we remind you that the AVST AGM is due shortly, where we again anticipate having representation from the club for a Q&A session.