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Is This The Public Face Of Villa?

Is this the public face of Aston Villa?

A cross section of Aston Villa fans, ranging all age groups and professions today attempted to meet with club officials to express the concerns of the Villa fans.

The group had taken with them the Villa Fans Combined banner proclaiming 'Time For Change' and wanted to politely put forward their views and try to bring some unity to the club.

What sort of reception did they get? First off they were refused any contact with anyone at the club. At first they accepted that and left the North Stand reception but then decided they weren't happy being brushed off after taking the time and trouble to go there and went back in again.

Several fans including Ian Robathan and Steve Orchard, in an attempt to represent the various Villa websites, fan groups and all concerned fans, asked to speak to Steve Stride. The receptionist told them that he was in a meeting all afternoon.

Steve Orchard explained, 'We asked politely, we were careful to be non-threatening and to remain calm. We were perfectly willing to wait for an officials lunch hour to speak or until end of business but instead of being given the respect we deserved, we were turned away.'

Having been told that Steve Stride was in a meeting and wouldn't speak, they asked to speak to the head of media and communications Phil Mepham. The receptionist rang him and said 'you are busy aren't you Phil?' Phil Mepham said he was unavailable and so didn't come down to speak to the group.

With Sales Director Stuart Ryan on holiday the group were running out of options for someone to speak to and as Ian Robathan said 'they wouldn't even send down a junior member of staff to speak to us and no non executives were at Villa Park, or so we were told.'

Orchard questioned 'Is this the public face of Aston Villa?' Orchard, who had driven for over an hour, from Silverstone, to get to Villa Park continued 'We were polite, non threatening and even in some ways apologetic. All we wanted to do was to express our views and try to build some bridges with the club in an attempt to get some unity whilst the club is in crisis.'

Instead the security guards appeared mob handed and asked the fans to remove themselves from Aston Villa premises. Ian went out of the gates and tried to put up the banner 'Time For Change' only to be told the club would call the police and report him for criminal damage.

As I spoke to these two fans, who amongst others were still in Witton Lane outside the ground, I could hear cars driving passed and bibbing their horns in support.

Orchard said: 'The clubs pr is abysmal, all we wanted was ten minutes and they wouldn't even give us that. We wanted them to give us a statement to put out on all the fans websites but instead got treated like dirt and told to leave.'

It seems anyone trying to get answers out of Villa Park these days will be faced - once again - with stone wall silence. Just makes us all wonder, what exactly have they got to hide - maybe their shame?

Perhaps we should ALL (!) go down next week at an agreed time, let them see it isn't just the few?

My personal plea to fans is to carry on with this sort of impromptu protests until Doug Ellis finally leaves, things don't need to be organised and as long as they are legal, any attempt to express your views and concerns have to be encouraged. This is our club Doug and we want it back!




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday July 21 2006

Time: 3:22PM

Your Comments

Hopefully Stride and Mepham were in a meeting tendering their resignations. And since when has putting up a banner been classed as criminal damage?
Steve W
The powers that be at Villa Park need to understand our grievances and Fears, no not the bald chap. We deserve answers I expect that 99.9% of the people protesting today, like myself, have spent 1000's over the years supporting Aston Villa. We deserve to be treated properly and have are questions answered.
still skeggy
what an absolute disgrace! Who do the club think they are dealing with? These are the paying customers, who keep Mr.Ellis, Mr.Stride and the rest in a job. Without supporters there would be no Aston Villa for Mr. Ellis to ruin. If any one of us went into a shop, demanding to know why we hadn't got value for money and why the manager of the shop had insulted us, would we still go back if security forceably removed us from the premises? The same applies here. Villa Park is OUR ground and Aston Villa is OUR club. It was built, for the most part, with our money. What do the club hope to gain from this closing of ranks? It's pathetic. Doug, the time is now you coffin dodging old *******...just f*ck off and salvage the tiny bit of dignity you have left
DougInABox
I know that its very easy for me to say, cause I was sat on my fat rear end elsewhere twiddling my fingers, while these guys were out there on the front line attempting to get the supporters message across to the club, but I'd have been very happy to have called their bluff, hung the banner, and got myself arrested. More rank bad publicity for the club at this delicate time, more rocking of the boat. Then again, as I say I weren't there, they were. Well done lads, heroes all. Typical response from the club though. Did we really expect that the club would handle it any other way?
glensider
Were they in a meeting trying to decide why no one wants the job?
fatloser
Thanks for a great write up Jon. I was one of the Villa Park Seven, and I'd like to make one thing absolutely clear: at the time of our ejection, there had been no form of protest. We had merely asked for a meeting. The banners at that point were still locked in a car and were only shown the light of day after we had been removed from the grounds.
ChrisVillan
 

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