Date: 20th June 2019 at 6:00pm
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With the news that Season Tickets are selling like nobody’s business, and the decision of the club to cap sales at 30,000, a big debate has erupted on social media about so-called ‘plastic’ fans (we called them glory hunters in my day) and them coming out of the woodwork and snaffling all the Season Tickets at the expense of more ‘loyal’ fans who’ve stuck with the club through the recent bad times.

It’s incredible to see so many people getting themselves exercised about the fact we have sold more STs than ever. The fact is that after such a prolonged period of failure on every level, it’s heartening to see the renewed optimism and faith in what’s happening at Villa Park. The borderline criminal wastefulness of the past ten years is fast becoming a distant memory.

The ‘Early Bird’ renewal and sale window opened back in March and was, in fact, extended to mid-April, before re-opening last Monday, where the club decided to cap ticket sales and is now operating a waiting list ahead of the Relocation Day at the end of the month. The initial window offered plenty of time for existing STHs to renew and ample opportunity for new prospects to secure their seats for next season, whichever division we were in.

According to club suit Nicola Ibbotson, “We have decided to cap the total number of Season Tickets for 2019/20 season at 30,000. It will give supporters who are unable to buy a Season Ticket for whatever reason, be it economic or logistical, an opportunity to buy matchday tickets for our league games at Villa Park.

“It will enable close to 8,000 matchday tickets to be sold to Villa fans for each home game of what promises to be a really exciting season.”

Frankly, it is difficult to argue with this logic. Many fans are unable to commit to a Season Ticket for a variety of reasons but shouldn’t be ‘penalised’ by an inability to secure tickets on a match-by-match basis.

Even in the relative ‘glory’ years of the early Premier League seasons and the top four finishes, and more lately the top six finishes under Martin O’Neill, we rarely sold out the stadium.

Last season, as our incredible winning streak propelled us into an unlikely playoff position, Villa Park only topped the 40k mark on a handful of occasions, and it’s more than likely that the sell-outs towards the end of the season had more than a whiff of improving booking history ahead of a potential trip to Wembley.

Plastic? Perhaps, but it’s equally likely that the feelgood factor was returning in spades and Villa fans wanted a piece of the action. A number of friends of mine took advantage of the ‘Final Four’ offer on the last four home matches with Wembley firmly in mind, but the very fact they wanted in at all was down to the remarkable turnaround in form which re-engaged many hundreds of fans sick and tired of the wastefulness, mismanagement and under-achievement of the past decade.

Ultimately, we all have a hard-luck story about tickets, allocations, equality and fairness – or lack thereof. Personally, I think we need to embrace the new-found joy and the desire of many thousands of formerly ‘lost’ souls getting their club back. We want to see a sold out, rocking Villa Park for every home game, not just the games against local rivals or the ‘big’ six.

Constant sell-outs will bring the much-demanded ground improvements and expansion and will mean we are finally seeing success back in north Birmingham. That’s something we should all get behind, not in-fighting and calling out fellow fans for returning to the fold or affirming their support with the opportunity to visit the hallowed ground 19 times in the coming season.

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