Aston Villa Football Club has descended into the depths of despair once again since that bitterly disappointing playoff final loss to Fulham, and that has not been more evident than the newly introduced Away Season Ticket scheme.
I think the majority of fans knew the price we would pay for failing in last season’s campaign would be no less than severe, but the ramifications of said failure that have come to light have been so much more than a ‘bitter pill to swallow’.
Our diminished funds have been well documented and for those in the Villa circles, the hierarchy at the club is quite simply a laughing stock. Recent news that the club is being run by a committee of only four people (of whom none are in positions relating to footballing affairs) on a day-to-day basis as the EFL are looking into how the club is being handled, as well as the sacking of our Director of Football, Steve Round is all the evidence one needs to come to the conclusion, in simple terms, WE ARE F****D!!!
It should come as no shock then that the fans are the least of their worries with the introduction or in hindsight, reconfiguration of the ‘Away Season Ticket’ (AST) scheme.
I shall state before I delve into the problems behind this initiative that I am incredibly hypocritical as my dad and I have purchased one, just for full disclosure…
To the best of my knowledge the previous system worked where a fee was paid for priority of away ticket purchases. In this, all tickets for away fixtures were sent to the supporter and cash would be taken from their account. Supporters were only allowed to return a few tickets per season, thus assuring most away games would be attended by said person.
A good idea which rewards those who travel up and down the country week in week out I’m sure we would all agree…
The new system grants priority to those that pay the £40 fee for away tickets – the only difference is that there aren’t a minimum amount of games a supporter must attend. This throws up some problems.
I don’t know the exact figure as so many have been banded about, but a small consensus estimates the number of these tickets being around 1,200. Per the72.co.uk, Villa’s average away attendance was 2,756 up until February 2018. Lets assume that figure remained the same, it doesn’t spell all bad news for fans that didn’t subscribe to the AST.
The main concern which is quite rightly put forth is that these tickets allow supporters priority to big games that will undoubtedly have small allocations such as Blues away, meanwhile shunning games against the majority of teams whilst every other Tom, Dick and Harry has to travel the breadth of the country to accumulate booking history to be next in line.
You only have to take a look at the realm of Twitter to realise the fans don’t want this implemented:
Now I know I am a Yorkshireman, and we are particularly well known for our distaste for parting with our sterling, but that isn’t the reason I feel this move is an absolute shambles.
I’m not playing the ‘I’m a better fan than you’ game because I don’t go to every single game, but I along with many others in the Yorkshire Lions Supporters Club have a season ticket at VP, which we travel no less than an hour to get to. We also car share or catch the train to a vast majority of away games per season. We do that because we love the club and we want to secure our place for the biggest games of the season, as thousands of fans do every week.
I don’t want to say supporters don’t deserve to go to games; all I am saying is that a fans loyalty and commitment to a club should stand for something and be recognised.
The only real advantage of this, is that it is only available to Home Season Ticket holders, but I honestly feel that this has alienated the die-hard fan that travels rain or shine, whether the away fixture is 5 or 250 miles away.
In a time of great desperation and unrest amongst the club, Villa Park’s officials have done nothing to ease supporters’ tensions and reservations about who really matters at the club.
By Jack Cudworth