Writer: Mike Field
Date:Tuesday June 10 2008
There was a change in format for the SCG this time round, whereby the club invited families in to pose our questions.
As somebody with two nippers myself, there are a couple in here that could well make life easier!
Question 1: Could there be a family parking area allocated close to the ground?
The idea of a family parking area is a very interesting one. One of the criteria requested for a suitable 'family parking area' is being close to the stadium. It is with this we will have the most difficulty.
The reality of our location, coupled with the number of parking sites available to us, dictate that everyone needs to be prepared to 'park and walk'.
The infrastructure around Villa Park makes 'park and ride' services feasible prior to a match, but virtually impossible afterwards. However, as part of our overall transport strategies, we will explore the possibility of creating a family parking area.
The official site, www.avfc.co.uk, will soon feature a Transport section which includes an overview of all the travel options available to supporters on Matchday.
Lee Preece Football Operations / Projects Manager
Question 2: Would it be possible to have more healthy living options available on a match-day?
We are looking at introducing the 'Villa Sub' around all the kiosks and the Jacket Potatoes will be re-introduced!
Alison Plant Head of Hospitality and Events
Question 3: Could we order and pay for food before kick-off and be given a voucher to collect the food at half-time?
I can't promise that we will get this up and running by the start of the season but we are confident that we will be trialling alternative solutions to ease congestion such as a voucher or cash-less system during the coming season.
Question 4: Could supporters have more access to the Training Ground, with behind-the-scenes tours and more player interaction?
The new training ground complex has been built to maximise its value as a workplace for the players and as such, isn't suitable to receive visits from large groups. It is difficult therefore to accommodate behind-the-scenes tours at Bodymoor in the same way as we do at Villa Park.
However, there is a public area where supporters can view training on a daily basis and the players always make themselves available on arriving and leaving the complex. Last year, we staged a very successful 'open' training session at Villa Park where supporters were able to watch from the stands. Villa Park is far more conducive to staging that kind of event and it may be something that we will consider in the future.
However, it has been difficult to arrange for this summer because of the uncertainty surrounding European fixtures and their knock-on effect to the team's pre-season plans.
Phil Mepham Head of Media
Question 5: Could we have more pre and post match entertainment?
It is doubtful whether there is an awful lot of benefit in more pre and post match pitch activity. Pre match we have the stadium and concourse screen entertainment; our grounds man would have objections to using the pitch before kick-off and the vast majority of fans get into their seats a few minutes before KO.
Post match the ground empties remarkably quickly although there's a possibility we could show post match interviews on the big screens. Our focus however should be on providing more half-time activity.
Steve Tudgay Head of Media Operations
Question 6: Can you sell drinks from the food stands at the end of the match as we leave the stadium?
We have tried this before and there was a very low uptake but we are going to have more vending available and we will try some kiosks in busy areas.
Question 7: Are there plans to introduce a family season ticket for different areas of the ground?
There are no current plans to offer a family season ticket for the 08/09 season.
A family of 4, 2 adults and 2 children under 16, can purchase season tickets for £700 in the North Stand Lower. We are always looking for ways to offer flexible and affordable family ticketing packages.
Nicola Keye Head of Consumer Sales
Question 8: Could PDAs be used at the Holte Pub to serve customers more quickly?
The Holte Pub will be looked at in the closed season as a venue, access, food and drink offer and we welcome all suggestions and input, PDA's may be one of the ideas that we try. More details to follow in due course when we know.
Question 9: Could a better range of childrens' merchandise to be sold in the Villa Village store, especially for girls?
We are looking to extend the range of childrens' clothing next season, we are fully aware of the limited stocks, with the shop hopefully being extended this will allow more space for a full range of products.
John Greenfield Head of Merchandising
Question 10: How do you keep up morale for squad players who do not play regularly?
The manager and his coaching staff work extremely hard to keep morale high within the squad. Obviously, it is impossible for every player to play every week and so there will always be disappointed players who are left out.
I've seen Martin O'Neill and his staff work at close quarters and basically they keep everyone involved on a daily basis and treat the squad as one group rather than a 'team' and 'the rest.'
There's plenty of 'banter' around the training ground and although players always want to play, their support for their team mates when they're not playing is part of a strong team ethic which Martin has worked hard to achieve.
Question 11: Will we be staying at Villa Park or changing stadiums?
We will be staying at Villa Park and have absolutely no plans to move stadiums. Rather, over the coming years, we will be looking to improve and enhance the facilities at Villa Park for all fans.
Paul Faulkner Director
Question 12: Can there be more visibility of players in the community and the charitable work they do?
The players continue to support the club's numerous community projects and all appearances are featured in our own media publications including match day programme, Claret & Blue magazine and the website.
We endeavour to get as much local and national press coverage as possible however this isn't easy as the national media aren't always interested in good news stories. We are backing the Premier League's 'Creating Chances' campaign which is designed to encourage more coverage of the various community projects and worthwhile work that is being done by football clubs across the country.
In regards to individual player's charitable work they prefer to keep this out of the media as they don't want to be seen as trying to enhance their image.
Duncan Riddle Head of Community
Question 13: Can we have screens in the North Stand lower catering halls?
We will look into this.
Question 14: Can the club introduce a discount for season ticket holders who re-new before the end of the season (i.e. in future years)?
We have not introduced an early bird this season. This season we have endeavoured to offer a wide range of season tickets to suit every budget.
Question 15: When buying match tickets, would it be possible to see pictures of the exact seat view?
The Club is currently in the process of redesigning the look and feel of the Aston Villa Online Ticket Office to improve the customer experience and allow each supporter to buy tickets as swiftly as possible.
As part of the 'customer experience' we have explored numerous features which will assist our supporters when buying tickets.One of these is a view-from-block, which effectively gives you a realistic interpretation of the pitch view from this area of the ground. Other features you can expect to see within the coming weeks are seat availability per stand/block and the ability to purchase tickets for Matchday travel, Away tickets and Stadium Tours and Events.
Russell Jones Head of Marketing
Personally I'm glad to hear about the return of those dangerous and pesky jacket spuds. Bet there's an Elf in Birmingham City Council panicking about the potential for mass destruction as I type.
Date:Tuesday June 10 2008
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