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By ESPN Staff

Houllier looking for 'better balance'

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier admits part of his remit is to help find a "better balance" between the club's hefty wage bill and the turnover of the club.

Villa are targeting "managing" escalating wages while remaining competitive on the pitch after suffering losses of more than £37 million for the year ending May 31, 2010.

The club saw wages increase to almost £80 million last season - an increase of £9 million and they now account for 88% of the club's £90 million turnover.

But Villa are confident they will comply with UEFA's 'financial fair play' regulations by the time they are fully in force by the beginning of the 2013-2014 campaign.

They relate to clubs living within their means, something Villa insist they are striving to achieve despite the backing of American owner Randy Lerner who has invested more than £200 million.

Houllier said: "First of all, it (the money he has put in) shows how much Randy cares for the club.

"He didn't come here just to try to borrow money and do things. He put in money himself. The club has grown and is now the 20th club in Europe in terms of earning power.

"We probably need at the same stage to have a better balance between the salary (wage bill) and the turnover of the club. This is also part of my mission. It won't be done overnight, it will be done gradually and we've got a great academy as well.

"We want to maximise the potential of our academy and the facilities here are made for players to grow and improve."

Sources close to Villa point to the considerable initial financial outlay Lerner had to make when taking charge of Villa four and a half years ago, including a totally redeveloped training ground at Bodymoor Heath.

But a big focus for the forthcoming years is to harness staying a force on the field in the Barclays Premier League whilst having a club which can stand on its own two feet.

The aim is not to reduce the number of quality players at Houllier's disposal but to ensure there is no excess baggage in terms of having players on sizeable wages who make little meaningful contribution.

In January John Carew, Steve Sidwell, Stephen Ireland and Curtis Davies - four high profile players on substantial wages who have made minimal impact at Villa this season - were off-loaded.

Carew and Ireland made temporary moves to Stoke and Newcastle while Sidwell and Davies were sold to Fulham and Birmingham respectively.

Sources also point out that having an owner like Lerner is not akin to recent situations at Manchester United and Liverpool where massive loans were taken out against the two clubs.

Lerner's total equity at the club stands at £115million and loans of £90 million. Villa received £52 million from television revenue while matchday turnover was £24 million and commercial income £14.4 million.


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