Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday March 2 2007
Answers to the questions put to the club via the Supports Consultation Group (SCG). Not earth shattering but at least the club are now getting feedback from the fans and with the General making sure all the points raised in his forum threads get to the people that matter, like Randy obviously, at least there is a two way conversation instead of the 'trust me I know what I'm doing' stance of yesteryear.
What can the club do to address the problems of parking?
We recognise that parking is an important issue for supporters and we have recently established a Transport Group, tasked with examining all means of access to Villa Park on match days and establishing an updated transport plan for the club. This will include discussions with all the transport agencies and consideration of schemes such as park and ride. A pre-cursor to all our considerations is a better understanding of supporters’ current means of accessing Villa Park and we recently conducted a survey of supporters. Despite the recent sale of the Serpentine site, supporters will continue to have access to a minimum of 550 car park spaces on this site and this number is expected to rise to 800 when development of the site is completed.
Marion Stringer, Company Secretary
What are the incentives for being a season ticket holder?
We appreciate that our season tickets holders are the lifeblood of the club, which is why we offer ongoing exclusive benefits to our season ticket holders throughout the season. This season, these have included reduced priced match tickets, a 10 per cent discount in Villa stores, exclusive access to the cup and away scheme and use of the Holte Suite before and after games. As we approach the 2007-08 season, we are looking at further incentives and bonuses.
Nicola Keye Head of Consumer Sales
What are the club’s plans to increase attendances?
We have started on our quest to fill the stadium. This is one of our top priorities and will continue to maximise attendance by ‘bringing back the fans’ as well as recruiting new supporters. We aim to do this by undertaking new initiatives by working with the local community, schools, colleges, universities and all other organisations. Our aim is to offer a match day experience not to be missed!
Can the club put aside a number of tickets for away games to AVSC from abroad?
First priority on away match tickets is given to season ticket holders who sign up for the away scheme, followed by the rest of our season ticket base. We advise Supporters Clubs from abroad to contact Dan Meredith, Marketing Executive and Co-ordinator of our Supporters Club network, will be on hand to advise you on ticket availability. We will do our utmost to ensure tickets are provided without compromising the benefits offered to season ticket holders.
Russell Jones Marketing Manager
Can the club produce a monthly DVD of highlights from games?
We are always looking at ways to improve the levels of communication with our supporters, but in this case, the advent of 24-hour rolling sports news means that we have to ensure that any content made available is relevant and interesting. We are undertaking a full review of our new media strategy, which includes opportunities such as this and the ongoing enhancement of the service currently provided by the Club’s Official Website. Clearly, an important part of the consideration is the economics surrounding any DVD service to supporters.
Phil Mepham, Head of Media & Communications
We would like to see Villa merchandise in sports shops across the UK. Is this possible?
There are currently between 25 and 30 stores who buy and sell our official merchandise and we are confident this will be increased following the announcement of our new kit suppliers. Our new partnership with Nike will allow us to take advantage of a global brand which will undoubtedly be beneficial in this area. The more successful we are on the pitch, the more demand there will be for our produce and we are working hard to develop strategies that ensure we maximise the opportunities provided by a winning team.
John Greenfield, Head of Merchandising
How can the club’s image be improved?
As you will be aware, we are going through a number of major changes both on and off the pitch. We are currently working on a brand strategy to ensure that Aston Villa has a consistent brand that is understood and championed by all stakeholder groups, including the media. Ambitious plans are already under way, with consultation over a new club crest and the announcement of a new kit manufacturer, which highlights our ambitions. We aim to position Aston Villa as a brand of heritage and tradition with an ambitious and bright future.
What is the club’s attitude towards offensive singing and chanting?
Stewards are instructed to deal with any such occurrence whenever and wherever it occurs, although the unfortunate reality is that this activity clearly has to be reactive. The singing of offensive songs or chants is contrary to the ground regulations, and may in certain circumstances be considered a criminal offence and attract police attention. The club reserves the right to eject any person whose conduct is considered to inhibit the enjoyment of other spectators.
John Handley, Head of Security & Safety Operation
Can we have Villa stewards at all away games?
Supporters travelling on official coaches are accompanied by club representatives who are able to attend to any issues during the journey. However, the responsibility for the safety operation at a football match is totally that of the home club and our representatives have no jurisdiction within other stadiums. We cannot insist that our own staff should be present as stewards are trained in safety procedures for a specific venue and possess important knowledge of the physical layout of a stadium. There have been instances of stewards from opposing teams being present at ‘away’ grounds, most notably for derbies, but their presence is for containment and not to implement specific safety procedures or issues relating to the stadium set-up.
Are there any plans to extend the Villa Village store?
We are looking at new match day outlets in and around the stadium. The Holte Hotel will include a fully refurbished match day store that will be open in time for the 2007-08 season. The Villa Village store was extended and refurbished in 2005, but we will continue to monitor the facilities at Villa Park to ensure we offer the best possible service to our supporters.
Could season ticket prices be reduced to generate more sales?
We welcome any ideas or suggestions to boost attendances and revenue. It should be remembered that our prices are among the cheapest in the Premiership and we are not planning an increase for next season. We are fully committed to filling the stadium and are one of the few clubs who can boast an increase on like-for-like attendances this season. Even so, we will continue to offer season tickets which suit all budgets.
Can we introduce a swipe card membership/season ticket?
An access control trial will soon be under way in one area of Villa Park. If the trial is a success (and we are confident it will be) access control will be rolled out across the stadium for the 2007-08 season. We will then be able to offer a far more efficient method of entry as well as the ability to offer loyalty schemes, exclusive benefits and memberships to card holders.
Is there any possibility of a pre-season friendly at Villa Park?
This is something we are seriously looking at for the coming pre-season programme. Activity at Villa Park is certainly part of our thinking. If a friendly fixture is not possible, we are looking at the alternative of staging another Open Training Day – an event which was extremely successful when we piloted the idea in the autumn.
Steve Stride, Operations Director
Can something be done to “barrier” off coaches from cars on the Aston Events Car Park?
There have been some near misses with cars cutting through as coaches are being loaded. We were not specifically aware there had been any problems in this area but we have spoken to the company which operates the car park to discuss ways of addressing this issue. We are working with them to make the necessary improvements.
Can Supporters Clubs be used more effectively to promote Aston Villa?
Efforts are made to promote the Supporters Club network and contact details wherever possible. The complete list appears in the Villa News & Record on a regular basis and the list is accessible on www.avfc.co.uk. A number of clubs have contacted the Supporters Club co-ordinator in recent months, looking to boost membership. In response, we have either published stories in the programme or sent out an email broadcast to fans living in close proximity to the Supporters Club in question. We intend to look at incentives for Villa fans to use their local Supporters Club to travel to games.
Date:Friday March 2 2007
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