Team Highlight : Aston Villa 

Celebrations for Aston Villa after being promoted back to Premier League. Photo: countypress.co.uk  

Aston Villa Football Club also known as Villa, is a professional football club based in Witton, Birmingham. Founded in 1874, the club has since established itself with rich heritage, most notably, Villa Park, Aston Villa’s home ground since 1897 which is one of the oldest and probably most famous football stadium in Europe and also gone on to win multiple cups and leagues including UEFA Super Cup, Football League First Division and are one of the only five English clubs to have won the European Cup in the 1981-1982 season. Donning the club’s traditional kit colours are claret shirts with sky blue sleeves, white shorts and sky blue socks with the traditional badge of a rampant gold lion on a light blue background. Aston Villa also boast an impressive list of fans ranging from royalty (including the Duke of Cambridge himself, Prince William) to sports heroes and film icons such as Tom Hanks who is an advocate for the club.

Origin of Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s 1887 winning team. Photo: spartacus-educational.com

While looking for something to do through the winter break, four cricket players of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel setup Aston Villa Football club which was meant to be played in the friendlies. Not long after, the invitation of William McGregor, a linen draper shop owner, to join the Villa committee changed the course of the club whom he set the foundations by bringing in the idea for the club to play competitively. 

Although his role has already brought professionalism into football, William McGregor’s vision also led to Aston Villa being one of the founding teams of The Football League in 1888 and thereafter the Premier League in 1992, which is known to be the highest level of competition in the modern era English football. To date, The Football League is the  regulating and administering body for leagues in European football.

Records over the years

Ron Saunders with one of the club’s prized possessions. Photo: avfc.co.uk

Another man whom Aston Villa attributes their success to is Ron Saunders. Having himself played as centre-forward and scoring hundred of goals before, Ron Saunders helped Aston Villa through their most successful times in the club’s modern history. His impact was felt almost at an instant when at his first season with the club, he managed to see the promotion of Aston Villa to Second Division and League Cup triumphant. In what was a remarkable comeback for Aston Villa, Ron Saunders through a string of successful spells, ended the club’s long awaited win in the First Division Championship with just 14 players throughout the 1981 season. However, as all good things must come to an end, the poor performance of Aston Villa which landed them ranking mid table in the First Division of 1982 season led to the resignation of Ron Saunders which upset fans who protested and petitioned to get him reinstated but to no avail.        

Although Aston Villa did not win any cups or leagues after the 2000s, the club was built upon high standards holding past winning titles in European Cup, FA Charity Shield, League Division Two, League Division Three, UEFA Super Cup and even seven times in both FA Cup and League Division One. No doubt the club would like to add another championship win to their trophy case, their closest hard fought season in 1992-1993 only brought them the runner-up title in the Premier League table.    

Present Day Aston Villa

Aston Villa fans unhappy with the owner of the club. Photo:standard.co.uk

While the club was facing a decline, the change of ownership to Randy Lerner, an american billionaire investor, accelerated the fall of Aston Villa into the ditch with main reason citing the lack of investments to the team. This changed the goal of what once was deemed the Champions of Europe from titles to survival. Subsequently, after six years, with what was known as the club’s worst performance- winning just 3 games, the club was yet again put on sale. 

New owner Tony Xia overseeing the club’s training. Photo: sportskeeda.com

The 2016-2017 season saw a change in appointment again, with new white knight Chinese billionaire Tony Xia rescuing Aston Villa from their financial positions in hopes that the club would have better performance and regain competitive edge. Massive amounts of money was being pumped into the club and signing of high profile players which includes Jonathan Kodjia, Ross McCormack and James Chester saw the club’s cash dumping posing concerns in the long term. True to form, by the 2017-2018 season, despite the strong financial position, Aston Villa still failed to secure a spot in the Premier League which prompted Tony Xia to seek additional investments for the high expenses by the club. 

Things finally took a turn in the 2019-2020 season when Aston Villa survived relegation just one point above the bottom three clubs in the Premier League under the direction of new owners.