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And It’s Goodbye From Him – 12 000 articles and out. And The Real Issues Communicated With Our Beloved Club

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Disabled Issues

I have always been ashamed the way the club have swept under the carpet disability issues.  This dates back 15 years of me being an active fan, forum owners, protestor, friend to the club, whatever I am.

I was a major player 15 or more years ago, raising funds for a coach for AVIDS because the club wouldn’t do what they should have.

I have seen little to no improvement in all those years.

The FCG, not the FAB, have real issues with this:

To the Club: 

It seems to fall on deaf ears.  I know the costs.  I know the complications.  I also know what it is like for many fans not able to attend, due to their disabilities.  The excuses, with yet another set of billionaire owners, needs to stop.

To put it bluntly, the club needs to find a moral compass – and grow a pair.

And if you don’t listen to anything else, please listen to this.  There is no point at all, putting more disabled seats/facilities etc there, if you don’t heed the often repeated complaint from myself, you need somewhere for disabled people to be dropped off.  I don’t believe, with liaison with the police, a solution to the closed roads can’t be found.  Even if it means a steward/policeman/whoever has to walk in front of a car dropping a disabled person off.  This dates back to the time where the club couldn’t give away tickets, and still nothing was done.

Last time I walked to the Holte End car park, my legs failed, I fell over, and I was asked if I was drunk.  THAT is what it is like being disabled in this country, that is what it is like being disabled at football (home and away)

Joanne is well versed in disability rights, and what is required, and yet no one club side seem willing to listen or consult.

To the group:

You have also let down the fans who are the most vulnerable and needed defending.  When myself or Joanne spoke, there was almost a collective rolling of the eyes.  Especially the very poor treatment Joanne gets.  She, like me, is in intense pain, and yet she still manages to attend meetings to stick up for her fellow, disabled, fans.  Everyone speaks up when it is about painting a blinking station, or about run out music.  No one usually backs anything re disabled.  There for the grace of Paul McGrath go us all, disability can happen to anyone, you should be fighting tooth and nail, it should be front and centre, until this club follows PL guidelines and the legal requirements.

The FCG – Now FAB

To the Club:

There is nothing more embarrassing then being part of a consultation group that isn’t consulted.  This is not what the PL guidelines demand, it is now what fans should be demanding and I, amongst others, have seen many a social media (as well as at matches) slatings of ‘who are these people and what are they doing’ with so much announced without consultation.

I pointed out with this seasons ticket price increases, I wouldn’t stay quiet, if it was suggested we had been consulted with again.  It happened the previous season, and it just wasn’t true.  We were TOLD not consulted.  You put fans in a difficult and potentially dangerous situation when you make it appear like we were all fine and dandy with such awful increases.

I can’t think of a single achievement we have made, others have drawn the same conclusion, others perhaps aren’t quite so willing to be as vocal (and I have also always been polite) about such things.

It was decided years ago, that match days are sacred.  This should not have been changed.  It leads to the suspicions of a good few of us in the group, that it is because we then only get an hour, can’t get through a proper agenda, and then it is cut short with no way of going over, because we all want to see the football.  There is no reason why Team Meetings/Google whatever can’t be used anyway, it doesn’t always have to be face to face.

The often used answer ‘the owners have put £300m in’ does not wash.  No one is criticising them, or suggesting otherwise, however, they aren’t (and this is not a criticism) a charity, here for the love of Aston Villa, there will be an end game. If they achieve their plans, it will be to their and the clubs benefit.  No problem whatsoever.  But in a consultation group, when fans speak up, they should not be slapped down with this rather lazy answer.

We should be providing the agenda from the feedback of our groups.  We should then, at your request, happily attend meetings where you want to have the chance to put up focal issues to be consulted about – tickets, kits, badges, whatever.

This group is not particularly inclusive.  Too many websites perhaps, (I am one, so …) too many people of the same age, no elderly representation, no black representation (I have no idea if that is required, I am not pre-judging), not enough ladies – until perhaps recently.

When you are speaking, you are just repeating what you already know.  If you actually listen, from the fans (your customers) and not shoot them down (not all are as strong / confident as 3 or 4 of us) you will learn things.

The group should perhaps be consulted when people are added, if not, surely it is not a true consultation group?



To the Group:

Speak up.  It takes 3 or 4 of us, every time, to do the agenda, to get the information, to do the communication, and then at meetings – for those that bother to turn up – you sit silently.  If you don’t want to turn up to represent your group, resign, let someone else do it.  If you don’t want to speak at a meeting, why take the seat?  Let someone who will speak up attend.

The group should stop the petty arguing over what they believe should or shouldn’t be on an agenda, or how it is presented (proper agendas are not meant to be essays) and just worry about making sure the things the people they represent want to be put forward.  It isn’t just about what we want said, it is what our members say.  If not, we are not being a use to the fan base at all.

This is not an us v them with the club.  This is meant to be consultation.

It is no good moaning in the facebook group, or saying you didn’t want x date, or the like, and then accepting it, or being all sweetness and light at meetings.  You don’t have to be rude, to get your point across and if you don’t feel you have been given time to get your point across, demand that you are given the time to finish what you are saying.

Whoever is briefing local press about the conversations should get a grip.  This isn’t about our sites/or names in press, this is about Aston Villa, our beloved club, and the fan base.

The Badge:

The fans were consulted, the badge was chosen.  We are now looking amateur with other clubs/fans laughing at us – and some of our own laughing – as we have two badges.

The comments I see the most surround the arrival of the new CEO (as we say in the UK) appearing to say the fans are wrong, and the last badge (a Disney designed pile of rubbish that doesn’t even bear our name) is what he wants.

One badge.  For the love of Paul McGrath.  And I remind you, this is Aston Villa, founders of the league, not some non league Sunday team, and even they wouldn’t think to have two badges or not to display the name of their club.

Aston Villa.

Unique name.  Never should have been anything different.

Tickets And Fans:

The greed of modern football leads me to think we are not alone. However the ticket increases have been pitched as being no more than whatever % when in actual fact, all tickets rose by that % and then others were re-classified, fair concessions were removed and many a fan has been priced out.

Poor form.

It wasn’t that long ago this club couldn’t give away tickets, and the loyal amongst us, still attended through thin and thinner.  Now you all eye a list of 30 000 and think ‘sod’ the loyal ones, we want the new lot who will attend, pay more, buy some food/merchandise and go home happy.

If we hit bad form, or don’t see a golden era, don’t rely on them to attend and you might well struggle to get back the dyed in the wool fans who have been / are being driven away.

It also wasn’t that long ago, under lockdown, where it showed your ‘product’ is nothing without the fans.  We are part of the product.  And the income from us, is nothing compared to the income from tv deals.

You have priced people out, and without any thanks to their loyalty.

Like those in C5 and the other side of the dugout, who I believe will all be moved for more corporate seats.  And yet their prices were still put up.  Some have been there since this stand was built – and 10, 20 or more years before in similar seats.  Me included, until I was despatched with by the PL

The least you could do is have communicated with them what the situation will be, when the move is likely and in recognition of this, you should have frozen their ticket prices.

Whoever decided to put corporate in the Holte End should leave this club.  That is THE Holte End.  One of the most famous ends in football – if LFC had done that to the Kop, there would have been riots.  You have allowed (and I don’t blame the individuals) people way down on the waiting list, to take the seats of long term season ticket holders, many of whom didn’t have a clue until they tried to renew as they hadn’t been told.

And the improved facilities for those who can afford it, in the Holte End, are actually what the facilities should be like for all fans, instead of the very poor facilities, endless queues, awful food and lack of seating and a bit of basic warmth, for the fans who want to attend a bit earlier and enjoy their time at the club.  You don’t even have an adequate amount of seats in the areas for elderly and disabled.

You are affecting peoples lives, it might sound sad to you, but this is the passion of many a fan, it is what they surround their life with, football.  Then they get dispensed with.

To the club and the group.  Away tickets:

There was, I believe, an away ticket group, I am not 100% sure if people didn’t want to attend, didn’t see the invitation sent out (I did) or thought others were going.  Again, I could be wrong, I think Joanne, disabled and in pain, was the only one last time.  THAT is where the away ticketing issues should have been brought up.  THAT is where it should be now.  There should be an extra meeting set for all ticket issues, home and away, because there is no way at the next FAB there will be time to get through all of that.  It needs to be thrashed out, between the club and the fans, some sort of agreement has to be found.

And more to the club perhaps:

There are some who have been to every away game for decades.  They have put pay to other things in life, (their decision, I am not saying they are saints for this) to follow this club all over this country and abroad.  Now demand outstrips supply, the ones who were there at every game, through all the bad years, should be catered for and this is where a line should be drawn, so that in future, there aren’t the ‘entitled’ few.  But to drop their claims for tickets after all these years, is very damaging to the reputation of the club and to the passions of these fans.  There aren’t that many.  They need looking after.

And to the fans:

And to any fan found selling their away tickets, fine, put their away record back to zero, fairness works both ways.

And also, the phone staff, office staff, and manager, are not responsible if the phone lines go down, or there are problems with tickets, they are ‘just’ staff and deserve to be treated with respect.


Not sure I can even be bothered with this to be honest.  Modern £00tball and the taking advantage of fans.  But for the one thing the club could get right, is having new kits available for the fans in the summer, for when they go on their holidays, etc.  Other clubs do it, we are always seemingly late

I also mentioned a few times over the years, including to branding experts, and managers of the shop, that there is a clear tie in with terrace wear and football fans.  A range of clothes, fitting the latest trends, with just the lion as a badge (like you get a crocodile, or the eagle, etc with other manufacturers) instead of trying to make the 3rd kit appear to be some fashion thing that can be worn with jeans or chinos.  They can’t, not with sponsorship all over them.


It seems to have broken down, between the consultation group and the club.  And between the club and fans.  That works ok when the form on the pitch is good – as it has been since this wonderful new manager has come in – long may it continue, but beware the fans who feel cut out, if form dips.

And what a good few of us in the consultation group have noticed over the years, is when you give an explanation for a problem, it is quite often totally fair, and if communicated, you would not have the conspiracy theories and anger.

A perfect example would be communication on the potential North Stand re-development, fans are interested but also, would understand if it is on hold, or date postponed etc, if they are told.  If not, it is social media guessing and ITK’s (who aren’t ITK)

Corporate and Fear !

I was moved to corporate, after losing my seat (not at my request), at my choice, at a fair price.  I was told no profit, no loss.  I am not allowed to buy just one seat, anywhere else in the ground, I am allowed an assistant (disabled) FOC.  £3000 + VAT is not a concession for an assistant, when the disabled person (charged full price which I believe was £4500 + VAT) is having to buy both tickets.

I renewed, at £9500 ish, and then realised I was paying more, to see less games, I then checked I would be allowed to sell the seats to the games I couldn’t attend due to health (and the chance of needing another procedure or op – which I don’t think I am going to do) and was told no. So back they went.

So that, for me, is it.  I’m out.  My first game was 48 years ago.  I was a season ticket holder for decades, including two seasons I paid but couldn’t attend, so I could keep my seat, because I had had a brain op.

It is what it is.  I am done.  But nothing should be promised, if it won’t be delivered.  Thanks to those at the club who did reach out, and those in the press who reached out, they will know who they are. It is also down to my health, which is worse, and perhaps I need to give myself a break.  But Villa was always a hard and fast rule for me, no matter how ill, and how much else I didn’t attend, I would do Villa, so the brain aches weren’t defeating me.

This is not a sob story, there are plenty of fans who now can’t afford to attend, I did at least enjoy the experience up there, but boy I missed ‘my’ seat of 30 odd years and the community I had got to know around there.  But I am mindful in this day and age, there are people who can’t afford heating and food, so some baldy wobbly man who is no longer able to go to a game in corporate, is not exactly high on an agenda.

I would point out I always represented this club well, fought for it in the press, and elsewhere, did the kit launch at the clubs request with absolute honour and pleasure, raised thousands for the foundation, promoted the then VMF restaurant for no charge and did a document used by Randy and his first two CEO’s continuously in their early days (it wasn’t rocket science, it was just all the gripes, groans, dreams, and opinions of the fans through the years) as well as being called in for many a consultation (as the fan liaison officer LP will attest) when the takeovers were happening, and when Hollis was also being consulted with reference to the mess we had got into.

I will always be proud of that.  But most of all, the role I bought, (recognised in a letter by General Krulak) getting Acorns involved and our proud sponsor all those years back.  Plenty of other lovely achievements attached to this great club as well, so I owe Aston Villa a big thank you as it has been a big part of my life and a big part of me re-building myself after all the / or during all the operations. (More available at:   )  Oh and being asked to write the forward for the Team Of 82’s anniversary of wining the league book was surreal, as well as writing the poem, at Dennis Mortimer’s request, for him to read at Ron Saunders funeral.

It has been one hell of a ride for one dealing with brain aches and numerous operations. You can read more: I was given a shot and I took it.

Corporate used to be award winning, it has gone backwards ever since, and I did offer to do a report outlining the experience of being a customer, from start to finish (some great, some awful) and from the moans/complaints/suggestions of other fans up there – not my fault I am known so get all this feedback.  The offer, put several times, was ignored.  I charge a lot in my work life, for things like this, and have just turned around a department for a company I am consulting with.  To turn down this sort of feedback is very strange.  I wouldn’t do it for free now.


Most of all, thanks to this club, thanks to this fantastic club, thanks to the mighty Claret & Blue.  It has made difficult times with health and operations, so much easier, being part of the Claret & Blue Army.  And thanks to all those in the team of 82 who befriended this strange character, and all the friends around the world I have made.  There is nothing like being part of this tribe.

This is me signing off after over 12 000 articles (at least 3 were good!), many press interviews, live Sky News appearances, interviews on Midlands TV and so on, from front page activity on Vital Villa.  And signing off from the social media accounts linked.  Thanks to all those who have read, joined in and enjoyed the time.

You can find me on my forum, my twitter and my facebook.

I will remain, Villa till I die.

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Walking Where Angels Fear To Tread


  • Kevin Hunt says:

    Good luck Jonathan a true Villa legend you spoke admirably on behalf of all Villa Supporters thank you for all your efforts.

    • Jonathan Fear says:

      Thanks Kevin, been really taken aback by the positive reaction and nice comments towards me. Appreciated.

  • Alan Bravey says:

    A thought provoking read. I hope that the people who have the power to influence club policy will have had their thoughts provoked.
    Thanks J.F.

  • Mike McKenna says:

    Hi Jon
    Great read. You will be sorely missed. Your contribution as a supporter to our great club has been nothing short of outstanding. On one hand I am optimistic about what is happening on the pitch, on the other, off the pitch i am concerned for the future.

  • seanie says:

    you are a champion

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