Aston Villa are bigger than Atletico Madrid

Ben Mountain

Aston Villa is a name that may still exist in the minds of your fathers and grandfathers, somewhere among ‘Ceefax’ and Vera Lyn, near the back. They were once a large and formidable club that had a strong standing and reputation in England’s top tier. Now, however, the Midlands club are languishing in an uninspired 13th place in the Championship, with the glory days blurred by several seasons of squeaky-bum time relegation battles. So the following statistic should hopefully appall you.

Firstly, do us a quick favour. Think of the biggest clubs that you can in the whole world. We assume the big boys, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United etc, come to mind first. Then maybe your own club, though, let’s be honest, you’re probably lying to yourself with that one. Anyway, there’s a plethora of massive football clubs globally and most of these command equally massive wage bills.

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Think Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and the new rich-kids that are springing up in China; Shanghai Shenua and Guangzhou Evergrande FC, for example. Then there’s the German giants; Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. MLS includes some big spenders – The New York Red Bulls among others, and obviously there are the top-dogs in the lesser watched leagues; Boca Juniors, Galatasary, Juventus – who really watches Serie A, be honest – to name but a few.

Below these are the still very sizeable likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, AC and Inter Milan, FC Shalke 04; the list is endless. Our point is, as we said, and please bare it in mind, that there are dozens of huge clubs across the world. They are, deservedly so in some cases, incredibly wealthy. Naturally, they’re most likely to pay their players the most. Well, hold up for one minute and brace yourselves, please. Read the following slowly and do make sure that you’re sitting down.

Don’t quite understand? Neither, but we’ll try to make it clearer. Aston Villa, a.k.a that once big club somewhere near Birmingham who you think had a decent cup run at some point, are the 20th highest paying club to their players in the world. 20th. Twentieth. Not 200th, two-hundredth, but 20th. The mind boggles.

Villa are ahead of the likes of Leicester City – the champions of England, Atletico Madrid (home of Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres, by the way), fellow English clubs Everton and Southampton; who vie for European places, not play-off places as well as every bloody club in China. In fact, Villa are paying their players more than 13 of the 22 pre-selected Champions League teams are.

It’s staggering. How much are that squad of Premier League has-beens like Micah Richards and Gabriel Agbonlahor actually being paid? All they’re doing is fermenting the Lions’ status as a mid-level Championship club. It’s outrageous. As if football hasn’t become detached enough from the fans already.


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We wouldn’t be so appalled if Villa were still in the Premier League and with the kind of status which they once had, but they aren’t Premier League and sadly very few people care about the club any more. However they’re still stuck in the mindset that they’re European quality, with Liverpool and United as rivals rather than Birmingham City and Brentford. Tragic.

The worst part of it all is this: some tickets at Villa Park still cost £33 and astonishingly, £28 for and under eight. The little buggers don’t take up any room, for Christ’s sake! Imagine paying £28 to take five-year-old Johnny to fall in love with his club for the very first time. You’d stick to the box, wouldn’t you? Away tickets are no better, either. Bristol City fans are being subjected to pay 30 quid at Villa in a few weeks time, which is the same price as fellow cash-splashers, Swansea City, are being made to pay in order to watch their club compete at the Etihad. Hmm, Manchester City or Aston Villa? We know who we’d pay most to watch.

Anyway, it’s a farce and it’s one we don’t actually understand. Aston Villa aren’t even 20th in the English pyramid, let alone the global one. How on Earth they’re pouring away £111 million a year on their under-achieving players is beyond anyone. Although, having said that, we reckon that Alan Hutton is a man with expensive taste. Perhaps he alone commands half of that sum to maintain his classy status in higher society. Well, whether he does or not, Aston Villa are humiliating their own fans with this little stat. You’re not big anymore, you’re not important anymore. Stop spending as if you are and get some perspective. After which, you can support the undying loyalty of your fans and cut that disgraceful ticket price. Anyway, after all that, back to that lot in China…


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