Timings for Holte End Changes, Second Summer Concert at Villa Park? And Club Crest Update
Welcome to the latest edition of the AVWTF newsletter. Over the previous editions, I’ve given you the heads-up on several mooted changes to Villa Park, ranging from rail seat placement to frictionless kiosks. This week, I’ve got some updates on the progress on some of these initiatives.
None of this info has anything to do with the recent Q & A session that Villa CEO Christian Purslow conducted with the Villa Trust. According to Chris Budd, who was present at the session, the topics discussed have either been previously covered in this newsletter or already in the public domain.
‘Safe Standing’ Finally Coming to Villa Park
While I have previously mentioned the discussions regarding the installation of rail seating (commonly known as Safe Standing), I have received confirmation on good authority that Aston Villa has consulted the local authority's Safety Advisory Group regarding the implementation of rail seating in both the Upper Doug Ellis and Upper Holte End.
AVWTF had already reported that Villa had identified these two sections for consideration for potential standing provisions, so it’s good to see the ball is finally actually rolling on getting them in place at Villa Park.
If all goes according to plan (and there’s no reason it shouldn’t), the rail seating will be in place for next season.
While there’s still red tape to overcome on the North Stand redevelopment, it’s unlikely, considering the current macro economic factors, it will begin straight after the conclusion of the Bruce Springsteen concert. A potential second summer concert is in the offing too, which is yet to be announced, but according to my intel, will be the American singer, Pink (P!nk).
One of the incentives of the redevelopment of Villa Park is surely to make the hosting of big summer concerts an annual event, and an extra out of season revenue stream. It’s a no-brainer for the City of Birmingham to back Villa Park’s redevelopment for the long-term fiscal win for the city.
Frictionless Lower Holte Beers
As I mentioned last month in AVWTF, Villa will be introducing a frictionless kiosk in the Lower Holte End, and now I have a specific date to share with you. The kiosk is set to open for the Villa Park clash against Leicester City, currently scheduled for Saturday 4th February.
The club will begin work to install the kiosk, which is thought to have cost them in the region of half-a-million pounds, during the World Cup period. It’s then expected to take four weeks in the new year to install all the required cameras that are integral to the system.
The idea of the frictionless Tap & Go kiosk is you scan your bank or credit card to access the kiosk, shop for items (pour your own beer or choose a pre-poured beer) and then have your desired goods tracked and placed into a virtual basket.
Apparently, this entire transaction should take a fan 15 seconds, in contrast to the current recorded average of 48 seconds (more like five minutes, plus!).
As mentioned previously, the system has been operational at Leicester City's King Power Stadium since the beginning of this season. I have been informed that it has been well received by Foxes fans, who quickly transitioned from considering it a novelty to accepting it as a normal part of their matchday experience.
The system had its initial trial in the Liverpool end during the Community Shield final at the King Power Stadium. It provided Leicester with a bit a learning curve, as the visitors that day took some liberties. Ultimately though, the transgressions of the Liverpool fans allowed certain weaknesses in the system to be ironed out. It is clear that, for obvious reasons, the system is more suitable for home supporters than for implementation in away sections.
Saints Dropped Catch
The club also approached the Safety Advisory Group earlier in the season regarding housing Villa fans above the away fans in the Upper Doug Ellis for fixtures that have there away allocations capped off to 1,600 (just the lower tier).
Unfortunately, as you would have seen at the recent Southampton game at Villa Park, the club didn’t exactly do a good job of getting the word out to Villa supporters, leaving 1000 unsold seats in the Upper Doug Ellis for the Saints game.
With most fans believing the fixture to be a sell out, it was bit of a dropped catch for the club, considering the lost revenue and the current demand for home tickets.
Crest Design Round Two & Three
If you read the previous edition of AVWTF, you would read I was pretty bullish coming out the first Villa Fan Consultation Group meeting on the new crest design. It was a very constructive three-hour meeting and should have provided the design agency, Dragon Rouge, with all the insight on Aston Villa to inform several different new dynamic crest options. As well as looking at the tradition badge concepts, we also encouraged them to explore fresh approaches.
The motto of the design agency declares, "we design for brands with bold ideas and brave hearts." However, during the second meeting, there was little evidence of this mantra. Based on the working examples we saw, it would seem, we might potentially only receive slight alterations to existing ideas (a tweak of the current lion with the use of ‘Aston Villa’ in a round badge?) ala what the agency did with the Paris St Germain badge; one of the two football badges, along with Lille, they have previously designed.
Based on the working examples we saw, it appeared that we might only receive slight modifications to existing ideas (such as a tweak of the current lion emblem with the inclusion of 'Aston Villa' in a round badge). This approach seemed similar to what the agency did with the Paris St Germain badge, one of the two football badges they had previously designed, the other being Lille.
Aside from a round badge variation and a lion emblem without any outer casing with "Aston Villa" written beneath it, the remaining options were not noteworthy (they were merely different lion variations within various shield templates). The majority of the options were rather underwhelming (which I told the designers straight-up).
Hopefully, the feedback provided by fans during the consultation will sharpened the designers minds to come up with a stronger line-up of options in the next round of design concepts, which I’ll see this coming week, when the Fan Consultation Group views them.
It is undoubtedly preferable for the final Villa crest to be the best choice among a robust selection, rather than being chosen simply because it was the only acceptable option.
The final selections will be subject to a supporter vote. Ideally, all the options under consideration would be deemed acceptable.
Make sure to subscribe to this newsletter to receive my initial reaction to the next round of designs.