Joanne McKibbens Aston Villa Disabled Supporters Association
John Gillett Lions Clubs
Nilesh Chauhan Villans Together
Lena Curran Fan Representative
Guri Nandra Punjabi Villans
Connor Smith Fan Representative
Mo Razzaq Aston Villa Supporters Trust
Steve Gough Independent Supporters Clubs
Sarah Breslin Villa Bellas
Ian Stokes Vital Villa
Ben Redding My Old Man Said
Dave Woodhall Heroes & Villans
Scott Jones Villa Talk
Sam Timms Villa & Proud
Nick Sanders Avillafan.com
Chris Heck President of Business Operations
Ben Hatton Chief Operating Officer
Paul Tyrrell Chief Corporate Affairs & Security Officer
Tommy Jordan Communications Director
James Lamb Head of Estates Development
Lynne O’Reardon Head of Ticketing
Lee Preece Supporter Liaison Manager
Villa FAB Meeting Notes
Agenda items and comments provided by Fan Representatives are shown in normal text.
Club agenda items or responses are shown in blue italics.
Fab Group response to these notes are in red
1. Accessible Seating update
The club continues to work on a road map to compliance, given that we need 220 wheelchair spaces and currently have 105 spaces, with that number increasing in each of the last two seasons.
Any new areas that are introduced will need engineering and structural works and will require the loss of existing seating areas (to reach compliance, we need accessible seating in all four stands). However, as discussed in item 2, we are looking to increase capacity by maximising the efficiency of existing seating which will help mitigate seat loss for anyone affected by the loss of their seat.
FAB reply: The lack of disable places not meeting the Premier League criteria has been an on-going frustration for both this group and Aston Villa’s supporters who need wheelchair/accessible seating.
Retro-fitting such seats is very difficult, as the club has confirmed to us on many occasions. So we were encourage by the fact a new North Stand was being planned, as a new build is the best way to address such issues.
The group is now very concerned about the loss of existing Villa Park capacity and remains unconvinced that ‘maxismising the efficiency of existing seating’ will address this issue, considering the club have to over double its number of wheelchair spaces.
These wheelchair spaces would no doubt be needed to be in place to host the Euros.
There is an issue with the lack of dropped kerbs near Holte Pub. Trinity Road does not have a dropped kerb until the burger vans.
This will be an issue for the council. We will ask our newly appointed Transport Officer to liaise on this accordingly.
2. Villa Park re-development
Whilst the plans for the North stand have been announced as being on hold, the commitment to improve facilities across the stadium will begin as soon as possible. For clarity, rumours on social media suggesting that this decision will result in a new stadium elsewhere are entirely false. Moving away from Villa Park is not part of any plans.
To increase capacity, we can change the seating layout in some areas to add approximately 2 to 3,000 seats. Any increase in seat numbers will clearly need to be aligned with improvements to concourse, toilets, food & beverage provision etc. Our owners will be investing significantly into upgrading facilities across Villa Park.
We are working closely with UEFA and the FA with regards to Euro 2028.
FAB reply: The club statement on the redevelopment plans being ‘on hold’ is not the messaging received at the meeting. Instead, it was strongly communicated that the North Stand will no longer be replaced and instead gradual capacity increases to the stadium will be implemented (beginning this summer). A bowl structure mechanic is being explored.
A strong reasoning given for the change in redevelopment plans is that Villa Park is not selling out. Average 200 unsold for Premier League games, and no sell outs for European games.
It was communicated that the money now not being used for the redevelopment is being focused on areas, including Bodymoor Heath redevelopment for both the Aston Villa men’s and women’s teams and player salaries.
3. Club Commercial Strategy
How will the club maximise sponsorship and what targets are in place to “close the gap”?
The club is active across the globe, with staff on two continents pushing hard. All options are being explored. Fans need to be mindful that we are operating within the parameters of existing deals and contractual commitments, some of which are multi-year deals. Sponsorship can have the most significant positive impact on our compliance with FFP.
4. V Sports Partnership
What do the club gain from a sporting and commercial perspective?
The V sports partnership provides access to a network of sporting talent.
Update on Las Vegas Villans?
This is unlikely to happen.
5. Terrace View & Lower Grounds
Are these areas selling out?
Both areas are selling well. Terrace View has over 500 season ticket holders, and spaces are being sold on a match-to-match basis. Lower Grounds patronage is also growing, with over 600 fans using the facility versus Arsenal.
As we get used to selling patterns etc we are beginning to balance ticketing between GA and GA+, ensuring tickets are released back to GA when appropriate.
FAB reply: The club stated the success behind TV and LG, with the average attendances sold. However, they could not confirm the maximum allocations of these areas and performance against that.
6. Ticket Office Opening Times
When tickets go on sale at 5pm the ticket office is closed.
The 5pm window was originally designed to encourage on-line sales and has been successfully operating for approx. 6 years. We always have staff monitoring sales windows and as recently demonstrated when there was a (worldwide) issue with the payment system, we were on hand to contact 3rd party providers.
Phone Lines close between 1pm and 2pm when some fans might need to call during their lunch break.
We have recently recruited an additional two staff in the call centre, so can review this policy. However, having half the staff available between 12pm and 2pm might not make it easier to get through (compared to having all staff take their break at the same time).
FAB reply: The FAB is aware that the call centre (including home workers) is understaffed, and considering some of the waiting times frequently experienced by supporters, is not fit for purpose.
To help reduce the number of calls, are we any nearer allowing fans to upgrade tickets on-line?
We are in the final stages of testing, where season tickets are held within the app. Once this testing is concluded this will allow fans to upgrade (via the app) on occasion where concessions cannot attend.
7. Matchday Music
Fans have provided feedback to Fan Reps on volume levels in the build up to kick-off.
Anyone who feels the volume levels are too high or too low in their area can drop the club a note and we will investigate. However, achieving the perfect balance for everyone across the stadium is impossible to achieve! We have received feedback in the past from fans in the same area with differing opinion on sound levels.
We do aim to build the volume towards kick-off, but as experienced in the last home matches, the noise from the crowd can drown out anything from the speakers!
8. Middlesbrough FA Cup allocation
The club took the full allocation available to us and sold out at the season ticket holder window.
9. Aston Villa Crest
The club confirmed the recently released AV 150 mark is not the new crest and will be used as a mark to help celebrate our 150th year. For example, it is likely to appear on the back of our shirts next season.
The club outlined to the group thoughts on the previous consultation that resulted in the round crest, reasons why it was felt that a change was needed and confirmed results from the fans survey which have played the major role in creating our new crest.
A video was shown to the group which outlined the results of this process and introduced the new crest. Discussion was held around the consultative process, and the club confirmed that the FA have been consulted throughout.
The video highlighted that the Club had 16,000 responses to the 85,000 survey mailings with the suggested crest being designed as a result of those responses.
81% of respondents wanted the name of the Club in the crest whilst 85% wanted the European Cup commemorative star incorporated. The majority of respondents felt that the shield shape was preferable and within that the left facing lion rampant completed the responses.
The Club presented a draft crest for discussion and whilst not universally popular neither was it universally unpopular. There were no suggested changes.
Having now completed the detailed consultation process, the Club will look to announce the new crest in approximately two weeks from the meeting, and the crest will then be rolled out across the summer.
Considering the FA’s new rules on fan consultation to protect club’s heritage assets like badges, we were not happy with the approach taken by those at the club pushing for the badge to be changed again.
At the meeting (and in previous recent meetings), Chris Heck and Ben Hatton, at no stage actually asked for any suggested changes on the crest from the FAB. They didn’t even ask, if group members liked it.
In fact, in previous meetings it had been stated that no feedback would change the badge that is presented, as it would be ‘left to the professionals’.
This contradicts the statement made in the recent Chris Heck interview that the badge is now with fans for feedback before it’s unveiling. The FAB is not aware of this happening and stated this in the meeting.
The FAB voiced it’s concern with the consultation on the badge, stating it specifically was not as extensive as for the previous new badge. The club identified that it has already spoken to the FA about the compliance of the consultation, as a precursor to showing the badge to the FAB.
The FAB voiced it’s concern on the shape of the badge not being right for Villa. In essence, it’s an update on the current yellow lion shield. In the first survey for the badge, supporters clearly stated they were not happy with it, to quote the club, ‘given that only 19% of fans who filled out the survey claimed to like the current shield shape’.
Also, a move from a yellow lion to a claret one was clearly stressed throughout the badge consultation process and embraced by the club.
In a vote of 21,500 supporters only 8% of fans voted to keep this shield badge.
Regardless of views on the current round badge on the shirts, it has a clear mandate from Aston Villa supporters with 77% of the vote the club.
In that respect, the bare minimum of supporter consultation required to give any new badge a similar mandate, would be for it to face and top the round badge in a renewed supporter vote.
It is not satisfactory for executives that have been at the club a matter of months, to create a badge that ‘they believe’ is what the majority of fans want, without getting supporter approval first, as per the new FA rules.
The round badge this season also has the potential of being associated with a huge upturn in success for the club, unmatched by the period experienced by the previous variations of the recent yellow lion shield design.
The initial mission of the club changing the club badge was to signal a new future for the club, and to break away from recent serial underachievement.
Next informal meeting is 31st January. The club will invite Andrew Watkin, Transport Officer and Sam Ghataora, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead to meet with the group.