Football fans who grew up in the 1990s know Aston Villa as a permanent fixture in the top tier of the English league.
Despite only rarely being in the hunt for honours, Villa have been a Premier League mainstay since its inception in 1992. It is hard to imagine the division without Villa Park and the famous claret and blue shirts of Aston Villa.
Villa facing uncertain future as relegation looms!
But relegation to the Championship looks all but nailed on for Villa this season, and it is highly likely that they will compete in the second tier of English football next season for the first time since 1988.
Villa are at the time of writing priced with 32Red at odds of 1/25 to go down. Indeed, the Villa Park faithful might appreciate the fact that 32Red provides customers with the option to transfer betting funds over to their online casino for UK players. Roulette and blackjack might hold brighter prospects than betting on their team over the next few months.
The club’s new chairman, Steve Hollis, admitted that Villa are in their worst position for decades, but he has defended owner Randy Lerner’s track record of spending, highlighting the £200 million that the American has put towards transfers in the 10 years he has owned the club.
Villa fans might struggle to take any positives from seeing their side exiled from English football’s elite, but the prospects for relegated sides are improving with each season that goes by.
This season’s relegated teams will receive £64 million each, split over four years, and Villa will benefit from a cash injection of £24 million next season if they finish 20th, as seems likely. If Garde was to produce a spectacular escape and keep Villa in the Premier League for one more season, the parachute payments in 2016/17 are set to rise significantly following the top division signing it’s largest ever television rights deal worth £5.3 billion.
Another factor in Villa’s favour is the club’s fanbase. Attendances at Villa Park have remained remarkably strong, despite the team’s struggle, and the average home crowd has actually increased from 34,133 last season to 34,976 in 2015/16.
Even if Villa were to lose 10,000 fans from their average home gate, they would still be one of the best supported clubs in the Championship. The club’s ability to attract players and fund transfers is also unlikely to be too badly diminished.
The plight of clubs like Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday, who have failed to recover their former status as giants of English football since they fell from grace, has rightly made fans and club owners wary of the perils of relegation. Leeds, who just 15 years ago were Champions League semi-finalists, are 50/1 to be promoted this season at 32Red, Unibet and 888Sport, while Forest are in a similar position. Wednesday might be on the brink of better times but it has taken them 16 years to get back to a position to challenge for a place in the Premier League.
For the time being at least, Villa look safe from capitulation, but they will need to waste as little time as possible as they look to bounce back to the financial security of the Premier League if they are to protect their proud history from having a dark chapter added to it.