From European Nights to North Stand Fights - Randy Lerner Must Go

Seven League titles, seven FA Cups, five League Cups and a European Cup... Given the current state of Aston Villa Football Club - and perhaps if she truly understood what irony is - Alanis Morissette might have written a song about us.

Before we dive in allow me to clarify a couple of things with you. The protest group of which I am a part, Aston Villa Protest Group (AVPG), is of a peaceful nature. Despite the club's best attempts to engage us fans in warfare on the terraces, we do not think that kind of action is befitting of us, particularly as supporters of the grandest old team in the land. We are not neanderthal thugs with a thirst for perceived justice and a penchant for violence; we only believe we come 'first' in the loosest possible sense, if you catch my drift.

I feel the above distinction is a necessary one to make, if only to help you appreciate that when we make our demands of Mr Lerner and the board we do so with a heavy heart. After all, Aston Villa Football Club is our passion. It is in the blood in our veins that both literally and metaphorically runs clarrie-blue. It is in every breath we take in which if you listen closely, you can hear the distinct undertones of a lion's roar.

The history of Aston Villa is a rich one, we are founders of the football league. It was 128 years ago to the day as I write that then Aston Villa chairman William McGregor, who proposed the football league first in a letter, met with representatives of Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion. Seven League titles, seven FA Cups, five League Cups and a European Cup later, his statue now stands proud outside of the Director's Entrance attached to the Trinity Road Stand. Given the current state of Aston Villa Football Club - and perhaps if she truly understood what irony is - Alanis Morissette might have written a song about us.

You see, what our illustrious owner Mr Randy Lerner has failed to appreciate most of all is that this football club, this institution that we hold so dear, the very one that is currently rotting from the inside out, it does not belong to him. Perhaps in a literal economic sense, but never emotionally. It is ours to keep forevermore and no matter the occasional utterances to the contrary Randy Lerner has been found wanting us and continues to be so. He has been miserably consistent in that.

A question we are often asked is, if results were different on the pitch would you there be any need for us? Results on the pitch and the absence of heart, ability, almost all discernible qualities as footballers or indeed men shown by our players is a symptom of the disease rather than the cause. Yes, if results were different then perhaps we would not have found the desire to form. It wouldn't have been necessary, we'd be supporting a different club. If my aunty had a pair of... You know how it goes.

When we first began the Out the Door on 74 campaign, relating to the year of the clubs formation 1874, we had no idea what to expect. We were coming at it from a standing start and the initial take up was occasionally slow and cumbersome. That's natural considering Aston Villa supporters in the main are disenfranchised and accustomed to being let down.

However when thousands of you stood up to be counted and walked Out the Door on 74 vs Everton, we were elated. It had the desired effect and coupled with the powerful Lerner Out chanting it drew attention to our plight. Aston Villa and Randy Lerner were back page news again.

We had to evolve and release ourselves from the constraints of being tied in to one single idea.

The group is called Aston Villa Protest Group.

Following the success of OTDO74, the club decided in their continuing wisdom to make our next task a little easier. The actions taken by them during our home game with Tottenham Hotspur were frankly obscene. A steward, under orders might I add, wrestled a perfectly legitimate and inoffensive banner stating "Lerner Out" from a fan on the North Stand stairs. Not only were they both put at risk of injury, the message from up high was clear. This is no longer Villa Park, welcome to a little corner of North Korea. Thus for our next trick in a show of defiance - Banners Out On 74 vs Chelsea (2 April), which I imagine is fairly self-explanatory. They might think it a legitimate option to silence one voice, let's see how you deal with thousands at once.

None of us are in this for personal gain. If it were up to myself you wouldn't even know my name but alas The Huffington Post would not be able to grant us a spot on the roster in that case, so the sacrifice has been made. In reality we are all writing this and I am merely the conduit.

On the inside we operate as a true democracy, there is no one decision maker. Though this may slow us down at times we believe it is essential for balance. In the words of one Anonymous member - we are a hydra, cut off one head and we grow two back. Though in fairness comparing ourselves to a gigantic mythical creature, or indeed Anonymous, is probably juxtaposition with our relatively simple aims.

We want an honourable football club rather than the current shambles on and off the pitch. We demand that there be mutual respect between ourselves and the board rather than the heavy handed attempts to silence supporters and we are calling for an end to the absence of clear communication on even the most basic of matters. A modern day football club that operates to the level we have ambitions of needs to have a strong business presence too, so yeah that too please Mr Lerner, if it's not too much to ask.

Ultimately, Randy Lerner needs to go. I could debate the toss regarding his motivation, or lack of, to sell Aston Villa until the cows come home. However the last communication we had was that he was no longer motivated to do so. Or in other words, not willing to bend on the asking price. Well, Randy old chum, you dragged us into this mess. We did not ask for you to chuck £300million into the pan only to turn around and flush the entire club with it. We only asked you to be the custodian you declared yourself to be.

With that in mind how about this for an amicable solution. Rather than continue to flush money down the bog like you're Liam Ridgewell the day after the night before, drop the price? Re-motivate yourself to find a suitable buyer and in the meanwhile do all you can to help us dig out of this hole of your making? Oh and while you're at it, call the dogs off mate! Let us have our say, peacefully and with a passion we have earned the right to display over 142 years of distinguished history.

This is a remarkable club, with exceptional support even through the darkest of times and we will stand firm, no matter what you throw at us. General Charles Krulak included. We will undoubtedly be here for 142 years more too. Forever Prepared.

David Plant, Aston Villa Protest Group (AVPG)


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