Life’s tough at the bottom of the English Premier League and relegated Aston Villa have started to implode.
After a disastrous season that has seen the team score fewer goals than the 27 league top scorer Harry Kane of Tottenham has netted on his own, Villa are going to the Championship with only 16 points from 34 games so far.
The shambolic team are relegated with four games left to play, while players, staff and directors seem to be falling apart.
Forward Gabriel Agbonlahor is suspended pending the results of an internal investigation after he was snapped inhaling laughing gas in a London hotel the team was relegated.
He was suspended earlier in the season after a photo of him smoking a shisha pipe while on holiday in Dubai was circulated on the internet.
‘Slime bag’ row
Agbonlahor is already training away from the first team after picking up the nickname ‘Flabby Gabby’ due to poor fitness.
Club captain Joleon Lestcott is under fire from former Villa stars Paul McGrath and Stan Collymore, who labelled him a ‘slime bag’ when he sent a message out on social media describing relegation as a relief for the players.
McGrath accused Lestcott of acting like a ‘slime bag’ and only going to Villa Park for cash, while Collymore posted a personal message sent to him by Lestcott by accident.
Meanwhile, news broke that the club is planning to make 500 staff redundant as the result of relegation and directors Mervyn King and David Bernstein resigned, claiming their positions were untenable.
Both are well-respected – King is former governor of the Bank of England and Bernstein was chairman of the Football Association.
Another director, Adrian Bevington, who worked at the FA with Bernstein, is also thought to be on the verge of quitting.
Players face 50% wage cut
Villa are also managerless after the departure of Paul Lambert, Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde since February 2015, leaving coach Eric Black in temporary charge.
Financially, Aston Villa miss out on next season’s bumper pay-out from TV rights. Even the club at the bottom of the table, where Villa will finish this season, picks up £100 million.
To temper this, most players are on contracts with a drop clause slashing their salaries by half on relegation.
Agbonlahor is thought to be on his way out, but few of the other players are likely to be in demand due to the squad’s collective dismal displays this season.
Owner Randy Lerner has had the club up for sale for an estimated £100 million for at least a year with no takers.
Relegation and the turmoil at Villa Park are likely to slice millions off the asking price