‘Bright Future’

Remember once a upon time Aston Villa supporters were promised a ‘bright future’ by Villa’s then new American owner? Less than a decade later, Randy Lerner has since put the club up for sale and in-effect thrown Villa into limbo, with the shackles put on any really serious forward planning. After what will be the club’s fifth relegation battle in succession, it’s hard at this stage to see any brightness in the future at B6.

But what would have been the benefits of this bright future?

It had been hoped that Villa would utilise Lerner’s initial investment and knock-on potential infrastructure to get some on-field success. O’Neill perhaps should have done better in at least one of his seasons, when Villa were comfortably placed in the Top 4 come the turn of the year with daylight between them and Arsenal. If O’Neill’s Villa had seen that season out and qualified for the Champion’s League, life at B6 may have been a lot different.

Other key moments going Villa’s way, may have also provided the club with a bit more feel-good factor.

What if Vidic had been sent off in the opening minutes of Villa’s League Cup final against United, like he should have been? And what if Lambert hadn’t blown arguably an even better chance of winning the League Cup having drawn Bradford City over two legs in the semi-final, with Swansea awaiting in the final (after they had knocked out Chelsea)?

Well, if all of those factors had fallen into place and Villa had gained the financial spin-off of the Champions League and had a couple of pieces of proper 21st Century silverware in the trophy room, it may have had a knock-on effect on Villa’s following and also Lerner’s enthusiasm.

New North Stand

One of Lerner’s initial plans was to eventually update and develop the North Stand. It’s never happened, but the plans have been drawn up and have been gathering dust in an office at Villa Park, since they were last seriously talked about by the Villa board in 2010.

In recent decades Villa have always struggled to fill Villa Park regularly, even in the more successful seasons. This has always ultimately held back any revamping of the out-dated North Stand. Another factor was the failure of the FA’s bid for England to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Villa Park was one of the stadiums in the mix to be used if the FA’s bid was successful with proposed expansion of the North Stand to boost the capacity.

 

villa park north stand
A rebuilt North Stand with three tiers and joined to the Trinity

 

 

As we can see from the above picture, the North Stand could be build on three levels and also have the corners with the Trinity and Doug Ellis stands filled in.

Back in 2010, Lerner had admitted they were looking at a capacity of around the 50,000 mark. And then, he projected it would have been done by 2014, which gives you an indication how Villa’s fortunes have slumped and perhaps how his interest in the club has waned.

 

north stand expansion
An inside look at a new 50,000+ Villa Park

 

 

As former Villa CEO Paul Faulkner told MOMS over a year ago (late 2013), the North Stand would need a “wrecking ball” through it and a complete rebuild. At the time, he also seemed to indicate there had been a new set of architect drawings for the North Stand

But poor performances on the pitch and the resulting drop in attendances have held the plans back and made expansion economically unviable, as Lerner had warned in 2010:

“If you don’t have attendance at some point your success will decline and so there are a variety of balancing acts that go into figuring out how to generate additional capacity and at what price you’re going to do it,” he said.

 

villa park increased capacity

 

Commercially though, Villa are currently less likely to proceed with their North Stand plans than they would have done when Lerner first bought the club. Relegation battles and the uncertainty they bring to long-term planning, tend to put grand scheming on ice.

“There are a couple of things that need to click in terms of a commercial model to put us in a position to really do something special with the North Stand”, said Lerner, again in 2010.

What is likely and may be on the ‘to do list’ of Tom Fox, if Lerner sanctions it and/or if they’re both around long enough, is for a naming sponsor to help fund the rebuilding. That would help a) actually get the job done and b) minimise the effect of rebuilding on the player budget.

Currently, though a new North Stand is a pipe dream when you have a team on the pitch that can’t score, making them far from a big box office draw.

We maybe far from where we should be at the moment, but it’s important as supporters not to forget what the ambition of Aston Villa should be.

UTV

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry to put the damper on some folks enthusiasm but what new owners are we talking of as all I’ve heard about is the press & a few others talking of pie in the sky ?
    But what if a new owners do come in ? When Randy bought Villa it was on the understanding that he financed the new facilities at Bodymoor . And grand they are, more than matching those of many of the Prems top clubs . So perhaps a condition of sale could be for the new owners to rebuild the North stand ?

  2. How things have changed since you first wrote this piece, positivity has not just crept in with Villa fans, it’s charged in, and may it long continue.
    Your Tweet could be a prophetic one, the drinks are on me if so 🙂

    “Survive, win FA Cup, top 8 next season, fans return, then new owners go for the 50,000 Villa Park plan”

    UTV

  3. Last time I looked it was a £60m project (some inflation since then). A W’Cup might have helped but I doubt it, and a sponsor – even for the ground – will never pull that kind of money in at this point. We can’t even fill the current capacity a la Tyne & Wear. It needs a consistent 40k per game and regular European football and better cup showings (more games to sell), So it’s an effect, not a cause. Never going to happen under Foxcatcher.

  4. I do blame MoN, if you have the audacity to sign heskey, sidwell and a few others on mega wages then at least have the decency to stick around and manage them. MoN spent all the cash then left when he wasnt allowed to buy any new toys like a little spoilt brat!

  5. Lerner bought Villa thinking it would eventually be a cash cow, he did know there would have to be investment, on and off the pitch, which he did in part, but when O’Neill left him in the lurch, he didn’t know where to turn, except to Faulkner, who also didn’t have a clue.

    So starts the decline and decline of AVFC.

    The North stand redevelopment was muted at an early SCG meeting, and it was stated that it would all depend on success on the pitch, and regular full attendances.

    So the plan was doomed from the start due to an owner, and CEO who had no idea how to run a football (soccer) club, because they are purely financial jockeys. Early optimism has now gone, and Lerner is squeezing the life out of the club for his own ends.

    UTV and sod RL and PL

  6. oneill wasted so much money on mostly average players then dropped us in it because the purse strings were being closed.As already said,how he had the brass neck to sue us is beyond me.The decent players like Ashley young,he payed a lot of money for,anyone can pay over the odds for a player,its harder to spot a talent that’s a lot cheaper.Im guessing that lerner put a lot of trust and faith in oneill but ended up finding out that he was a self centred man,hence he had the audacity to sue.I personally don’t think 6th place was that good on the budjet he had.We might have done better by buying more slowly and building a decent squad over a longer period of time.As for the north stand then something needed to be done to bring it up to date but with falling crowds and lerners interest fading by the game then theres no chance unless another owner comes in before we get relegated.

  7. These plans were put forward for the London Olympics. The Olympic committee were going to pay for most of the development, but Lerner declined to allow VP to be used as one of the provincial stadiums and they used the Ricoh in Coventry instead. We should have know his love affair was over then. Simon is right, O’Neil is to blame, how that guy sued the Villa is beyond me. His transfer dealings were incompetant at best

    • im fed up with the blame o’neil brigade . he was given money to spend and spent it . at the end of the day lerner owned the club and could of vetoed any deal but kept throwing money at o’neil . lerner is to blame its funny we have gone to the dogs since o’neil left. since then we have had one yes man after another but thats ok just keep blaming o’neil.

      • So, O’Neill is to blame for everything then. He is to blame because the board have employed cheap and incompetent so called “managers”! These people are the reason why lameberk has kept his job and should be ashamed of themselves!

  8. Maybe they should plough all money set as side for the build into the team….then get success….. Then get crowds…..then get more money…..to then build stand. Remember the football clueless money men

  9. Lerner was always clueless and so was Faulkner. They threw money into O’Neill’s lap like he was Pep Guardiola and could guarantee champions league football. Now we are still paying the price for their collective failure and poor judgement.

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