The identity of clubs relegated from the Premier League is always going to be of interest to supporters of Championship clubs but amongst the Aston Villa fans, there are some interesting takes on the coming season.
The Birmingham Mail interviewed Howard Hodgson, a director of the Aston Villa Supporters Trust, after the fixtures were released and this is part of what he had to say:
‘Facing Championship fixtures for the first time in 29 years. A whole new, different challenge where the focus will be on Villa, as the biggest club in the division.
I’d love to say automatic promotion like Graham Taylor managed in 1988 but without knowing how the squad is going to line up at this stage and witnessing what the club has been through in the last 6 seasons, I’d take play offs now, if it was on offer.’
The interview produced a reaction from other Aston Villa fans with comments including:
‘What exactly is meant by the headline that Villa are the biggest club in the Championship ?
Physically and attendance wise, Villa are not the biggest club in the Championship, Newcastle win that one by a country mile and I will tell you this, Newcastle won’t be closing parts of the stadium, nor sacking half its ground staff either, they will as almost always, have near to and some games, capacity crowds.
If we are talking about our Trophy Cabinet, you are correct, but having a bigger Trophy cabinet, does not make us a bigger club.’
‘Newcastle are owned by Mike Ashley who also owns Sports Direct where everything is supposedly reduced by 70%.
So, if you take 70% off their gates, we’re a bigger club.’
‘Would you like to explain to me why you obviously think we are a bigger club than Newcastle, cos I’d love to further my education.
I am Villa to the core and yes, to me Villa are the Heart and Soul of my footballing life, but I am also a realist.
We deserved exactly what we got and I like many others, am totally surprised it didn’t happen four or five seasons ago and for a very good reason, we have not been a big club for many a year now, but this is a new beginning, perhaps one day soon, we can again shout it out, we are a big club, but until it happens, we aint.’
Talking about which club is the biggest always carries a significant risk of making you look childish but seen as he started it…
Claiming to be the biggest club in the Championship is a bit of a strange one, not exactly something to be proud of when your club has made such a mess of things to end up there.
So who is the ‘biggest’ then, for argument’s sake?
A number of articles recently carried on The Mag, with comments/reaction from fans of Burton Albion, Fulham, Huddersfield Town & Reading, all certainly appear to make clear which team they were looking forward to playing the most this season and who they saw as the biggest draw…and it wasn’t Aston Villa.
When it comes to success, neither club has won anything in the last 20 seasons so a but difficult to argue anything either way on that front.
Newcastle will have more supporters than Aston Villa as usual (last season Newcastle averaged half as many again as Villa – 49k v 33k), NUFC have a bigger stadium, will have a bigger turnover, a bigger wage bill and hopefully…bigger points total.