Timings for Exciting Holte End Changes, Second Summer Concert at Villa Park? & Club Crest Update
Welcome to the latest edition of the AVWTF newsletter. Over the previous editions of the newsletter, I’ve given you the heads-up on several mooted changes to Villa Park that are on the horizon - from Rail seat placement to frictionless kiosks - and this week, I got some updates on the progress on some of these things.
None of this info has anything to do with the recent Q & A Villa CEO Christian Purslow did with the Villa Trust. From what Chris Budd, who was present, said on the latest My Old Man Said podcast episode, it seems what was said there, has been previously covered in this newsletter or already in the public domain.
‘Safe Standing’ Finally Coming to Villa Park
While I’ve mentioned recent discussions about the installation of rail seatings (aka Safe Standing, as its been called), I’ve had it confirmed on good authority that Aston Villa have consulted the local authority’s Safety Advisory Group regarding the installing of rail seating in both the Upper Doug Ellis and the Upper Holte End.
WTF had already cited that Villa had earmarked these two sections for consideration for such 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 time with the beginning of the North Stand rebuild next summer, with Villa Park’s capacity set to be between 32,000 to 34,000 for a period of around 15 to 18 months.
While there’s still red tape to overcome on the North Stand redevelopment, the building process will begin after the Bruce Springsteen concert and a potential second summer concert - which is yet to be announced yet, but according to my intel, will be the American singer, Pink (P!nk).
Villa Park hosting a couple of big summer concerts to help pay for the North Stand? Smart thinking.
Frictionless Lower Holte Beers
As I mentioned last month in AVWTF, Villa will be introducing a frictionless kiosk in the Lower Holte End, but now I have a date for you. It’s slated 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/credit card to access the kiosk, shop for items (pour your own beer or pick a pre-poured beer) and then have your desired goods tracked and placed into a virtual basket.
Apparently, it should take a fan 15 seconds to make such a transaction, compared to the current recorded average of 48 seconds (more like five minutes plus!).
The system, as mentioned before, has been up and running at Leicester City’s King Power stadium since the start of this season. I’m told it has been well received by Foxes fans, who soon got over the novelty of it, to view it as normality now.
The system got its first outing at the King Power in the Liverpool end for the Community Shield final. 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. For obvious reasons, it’s certainly seen as something that is more appropriate for home supporters than to have in away ends.
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 last edition of AVWTF, you would read I was pretty bullish coming out the first Fan Consultation Group meeting on the new crest design. It was a very constructive three-hour meeting. It ultimately 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 states ‘we design for brands with bold ideas and brave hearts’, but in the second meeting, there was little evidence of this mantra. From the working examples that we saw, it would seem, we would potentially just get a alteration 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.
Apart from a round badge variation and a lion without any outer casing with Aston Villa written under it, the other options weren’t even worth mentioning (just different template lion variations in various shields). The majority of the options were simply underwhelming.
Hopefully, the feedback fans on the consultation gave has sharpened the designers minds to deliver 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’s surely better for the final Villa crest to be the best of a strong selection, then simply being picked because it was the only acceptable option.
The final selections will be put to a supporter vote. Ideally you want a situation where all options under consideration would ultimately be acceptable.
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I am struggling to see where, in Doug Ellis Upper, they propose to put rail seats. I very much doubt that anyone has been consulted who sits in that area.
As we saw at Spurs last season, the rail seating results in people standing on the seats, thereby blocking the view of those behind them.