Date: 5th October 2007 at 4:51pm
Written by:

Question 1
The PA system is very poor quality – what improvements / upgrades will be made?

We’re aware of the frailties of the current system and are looking at ways to improve the sound quality within the stadium. Some of these measures will be short-term “fixes” and others will be longer-term, permanent improvements. These in turn will allow us to improve the stadium experience for all supporters in terms of the content and service that we offer.

Phil Mepham
Head of Media & Communications

Question 2
Is there a possibility of using season cards as pre-payment for refreshments on the concourse area / club shop?

This is something we are working towards, and the very reason why we selected the particular type of access control system that we did. The vision is for each season / member card holder to have an account with us, from which you will be able to access all Matchday facilities such as refreshments, programmes as quickly and efficiently as possible. The system would afford us the opportunity to reward loyalty and enhance your Matchday experience. Planning is already underway to introduce these advances, with work commencing at our earliest possible opportunity.

Lee Preece
Football Operations / Projects Manager

Question 3
Could the club liaise with local bus companies to arrange for direct transport to Villa Park?

For some time now we have been liaising with West Midlands Travel. As a result of these discussions we have implemented three trial “Villa Special” services travelling from Tamworth, Solihull and Redditch (starting from our match versus Everton). The services depart from the respective train stations 2 hours prior to kick off, and depart from Villa Park 30 minutes after final whistle. Tickets (£3.00 return) must be pre-booked from Consumer Sales either in person or on 0800 612 0970.

The Transport committee will continue to liaise with West Midlands Travel to hopefully grow the number of services available identifying the most needed locations around the West Midlands to support fans travelling to the match. We need to provide every opportunity for fans to think about alternatives to the car, and part of our strategy to achieve this is ensuring affordable and reliable alternatives are available.

Lee Preece

Question 4
Are there any plans to sell a monthly DVD of the matches?

Historically, the sale of match DVD’s has been something there has been little demand for. In addition, the turn-around period for production and cost has added to the viability issue. However, it is something we are continually looking at and the ongoing progress of technological improvements may enable us to offer this service in the future if demand increases.

Phil Mepham

Question 5
What are the plans for the Holte Pub, and can invitations sent out on Matchdays be extended to friends and families of those invited?

The Holte pub is open 7 days a week. On Matchdays, due to restrictions on our alcohol license, we have to ‘invite’ guests and know who they are e.g., their names and addresses. As we want the pub to be for season ticket holders it was suggested that we randomly select from the database per game. If you are selected, and wish to attend with members of your family or friends that are season ticket holders too, then we are happy to do our utmost to accommodate your request in line with our licensing restrictions. If we are unable to accommodate your request for a particular game we will endeavour to find space at the next available match.

Alison Plant
Head of Business Villa

Question 6
Could more direct email marketing be sent out to all fans on the database, specifically letting fans know when home / away tickets are available?

We currently send out email alerts to fans prior to every home game. The rationale for fan segmentation is based on previous purchasing patterns and data protection laws which stipulate that fans must ‘opt in’ to receive communication via e-mail. The most important thing for Aston Villa is to ensure that the marketing messages we deliver are appropriate and more importantly valued by the person receiving them. We are always looking to increase the circulation of our messages and would be delighted for fans to opt in to receiving e-mail communication. To opt in to receive marketing updates fans simply need to contact our consumer sales team on 0800 612 0970 and pass on a valid e-mail address.

Russell Jones
Head of Marketing

Question 7
Can the match programme promote the William McGregor statue appeal and can supporter clubs spread the word?

The match day programme and the website are carrying/have carried information on this project, which should include details of supporter involvement.

Phil Mepham

Question 8
Would it be viable for the club to mail season ticket holders with 2 / 3 catalogues per year, making it easier to buy gifts?

At least 2 catalogues have been produced each season over the past years. These catalogues have been made available to season ticket holders, supporters and customers from in and around the ground at Villa Park and through our City Centre Store. A quantity of each publication was also mailed out to mail order customers on our data base who purchased goods. For season 2007/8, again there are plans for at least 2 publications with the main catalogue being sent out in October and a second publication early in the New Year. Plans are in place to mail all season ticket holders and mail order customers this season.

John Greenfield
Head of Merchandising

Question 9
How is the club investigating more car park spaces for when the Serpentine is sold off?

For season 2007/2008, we have secured the use of the Aston Events Centre for our matches. (As in previous years, the car park is serviced by Secure Car Park Limited who arrange for the stewarding of this facility). In discussion with the landowners, it is clear that this facility may not be available to us in the years to come, and we are therefore considering all possible alternatives to the number of spaces currently available on this site.

There are a number of alternative off street car parks currently available that are under utilised (operated by Secure Car Parks and other organisations) that will absorb some of the displacement. In addition, we are constantly looking to identify new sites that can be used to accommodate those travelling to matches. The Transport committee are currently creating a comprehensive map of the various locations for car parking on Matchdays. This map will be readily available to our supporters via our website and other media to give you the opportunity to plan your journeys.

Lee Preece

Question 10
Can we stop the PA music played when the players come out to avoid drowning out the singing which is killed off as soon as it has begun? Let the fans create the atmosphere.

The idea for the musical introduction is to enhance the atmosphere within the stadium. It is not our intention to “drown” the atmosphere created by the supporters, merely to support it, but this is something we shall be even more aware of following the observations of these supporters.

Phil Mepham

Question 11
Is it possible for the club to send out an emailed receipt on ticket purchases? Particularly with season cards for cup matches where someone’s card has been “enabled”, it would give confidence and help prevent people sitting in the wrong seats?

We are sure supporters understand that we can not “manually” email ticket details after each sale. We need an automated service that is compatible with our ticketing software. We are currently exploring this possibility via our Ticket system providers and we are very hopeful that a solution will be available to us shortly. As well as en email capability, there is also the possibility of confirming the details automatically via text message to your mobile phone. This would ensure those without access to a PC could also receive confirmation of seat details.

Dave Money
Ticketing Manager

Question 12
Our transfer dealings seem to take a very long time. Is it a problem with the clubs we are buying from or is there an issue at Aston Villa?

In our experience, transfers at other clubs don’t take any less time to complete – it is just that supporters are understandably focused on their own club’s day-to-day activities so their perception based on media coverage is very different. These days, transfers are complicated transactions with more interested participants than ever before. We don’t think Aston Villa’s general policy on transfer activation differs to that of any other club.

Sharon Barnhurst
Club Secretary & Phil Mepham

Question 13
Why is there no facility for season ticket holders to enter their client code as a promotion code to receive 10% discount when purchasing goods on line?

We are currently developing this facility and it should be up and running by mid November. In the meantime, orders by telephone (and quoting your season ticket client code) will ensure you receive your 10 % discount if you are unable to visit our stores in person.

John Greenfield

Question 14
The open day provided the club some excellent PR. Could it be done again next time early in the season (maybe on kit launch day) or possibly on a weekend when there is no fixture?

I agree that the open day was an excellent event and is something we are keen to repeat. Our schedules meant it was not possible to do so this autumn and the onset of winter makes it difficult to plan with any confidence for the next few months. But when all elements are favourable we will undoubtedly plan another event and announce any arrangements accordingly.

Phil Mepham

Question 15
There have been a number of problems with supporters still smoking in the stadium. Is there a possibility of an outside area to smoke to stop some of the problems?

It is particularly disappointing that a minority of supporters have been unwilling to comply with the law and are causing the club to take expensive enforcement and compliance measures.

Villa Park in common with most football stadiums is not designed to allow the measured exit and return of spectators who have already been through the turnstiles into the stadium. It would be a considerable practical, administrative and stewarding problem to construct and control such an area.

I suggest that spectators who smoke imagine that every time they attend a match at Villa Park, they are instead on an aircraft for a flight of some two hours duration. Exit from the aircraft is not possible; smoking is prohibited, so the only option is to wait for landing and the opening of the main doors.

John Handley
Head of Security & Safety Operations