Villa Closure

The news that Aston Villa has closed its city centre shop at the weekend is potentially disturbing news and perhaps offers a warning to the potential direction the club could be heading, if things don’t improve on the pitch fast.

The club’s website states the closure will allow the club to ‘further enhance the retailing offering going forward’. That’s currently something of an oxymoron at face value.

Of course, there is the chance there maybe a new site in mind for a new city centre store, but it’s more likely to be a cost-cutting exercise. Maybe it’s just not economically viable and online sales has taken over?

As many who has visited the News Street store in recent months would testify, it had been run with a skeleton staff and was also seen closing at lunch-times.

 

villa shop closed

 

MOMS saw first hand a few months ago the issues the shop was experiencing, popping in to pick up an extra ticket before heading to Villa Park for a Fan Consultation Group meeting with Villa CEO Keith Wyness and owner Tony Xia. There was just two staff having to work both floors of the shop (including one of them selling tickets who had been trained on ticket sales the day before) and they looked liked they’d been worked to the bone and were visibly flustered from their day.

I asked the staff why they were understaffed and I was informed of the situation and that the promise of extra help hadn’t materialised.

You couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. I offered to bring it up at the meeting with the club I was heading to, which I did.

Obviously, things have gone from bad to worse since and the shop seemingly only stayed open to take advantage of the Christmas period.

Despite having a prime city centre spot, it would suggest interest has waned.

Cross Roads

At the beginning of this season, after spending big in the transfer market, many fans felt that promotion was a formality, but with the club currently sitting in the bottom half of the Championship table, reality is starting to bite. The shop closure is further proof of this. If Villa were achieving moderate success in the Premier League, it could be argued that the shop would have stayed open.

The club currently stands at the cross roads with a sign post offering two directions – one is promotion and the other is Championship limbo (see Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest).

The next 12 months or so are fundamentally important to the club going forward, the time for complacent expectation is over.

 

 

City Presence

Speaking of Villa’s presence in the city centre…

I remember last season talking on the phone to one of the organisers of a leading Manchester City supporter group I know. I rang him up to get his insight on David Bernstein, the former Manchester City chairman who was joining the Villa board at the time. The City fan was told me he had visited Birmingham recently for work and had noticed there was very little, if any, presence of Aston Villa around the city centre.

‘If you get off the train at Manchester, you’ll see the presence of Manchester City or United within about 30 seconds. It’s everywhere in the city centre,” he said. “Apart from that small shop you have, you don’t see anything connected to Villa.”

He certainly had a point. I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t more promotion and presence of the claret and blue gospel in Birmingham? Maybe it was traditional Brummie understatement and reserve, but in terms of promoting your wares in the big and brash age of the football industry today, it isn’t doing the club any favours.

For example, if the Bullring shopping centre was in Manchester, they’d more than likely be a City or/and United shop in it.

Remember MOMS Chinese New Year Story? Villa’s presence at the Chinese New Year celebrations last year in China town in the city centre had been a small tarpaulin stand with a table manned by Tony Xia’s assistant to be. We were at the time a Premier League club.

It seemed to be a token gesture by the Villa marketing department. If they wanted to engage the community and potential new fans, with a bit more imagination they could have embraced the opportunity and had a more memorable presence at the celebrations.

In the end, it turned out to be a missed opportunity considering the Chinese takeover months later.

It’s time to live up to the Villa song “The City is Ours”.

UTV

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3 COMMENTS

  1. First Bruce tells us he has two many centre forwards, so he sells Gestede, Kodjia away with African nations, McCormack gone off the rails, and we’re left with Agbonlahor as our only striker. So now we are about to be overloaded with mid fielders. All this rubbish beggars belief, I now see that we are trying to sign an Arsenal ACE, we’ll believe me if he was an ACE he would be playing for Arsenal.
    Are we seriously meant to believe that Bruce and the board no what they are doing.
    Now I read that Kodjia is on his way back so there you go Mr Bruce you got away with all of the stalling, so what’s the betting on No new striker now, but relying on one player is nonsense what happens if he gets injured, oh yes Agbonlahor will do the job ( in your dreams )

  2. There hasn’t been a great deal of activity in the transfer market so far one loan goal keeper and Henry Lansbury signed, there’s been plenty of talk and we are told it will happen today, but then again we’ve been hearing about that since last Friday, let’s hope something does happen and fast because clearly the clock is ticking.
    I think it’s pretty shocking that we are being out bid for Rhodes by a much smaller competitor, we really should have pushed the boat out and signed him, we may very well regret not doing so. As I see it the club should take a hit and get shot of McCormack as a matter of urgency, no good keeping him if as stated he doesn’t want to play for us.
    And yes I agree can’t see any possibility of promotion this season, all been very disappointing so far, and when you hear the McCormack saga it beggars belief. I personally don’t have a lot of confidence in the clubs management.

  3. It certainly does not sound like a good move and does show how far the club has fallen, though I am suprised the decision did not come during the period Steve Hollis was examining the state of the club. However the cost of retail space in the city centre is astronomical and the spot (near the Bull Ring and Grand Central) must be one of the most expensive in the city. Plus more and more people are ordering goods on-line rather than going into shops and buying things. As a commercial decision it is a no-brainer. If we were a top team in the Premier League we could probably subsidise a store in the city centre and maybe in the likes of the Bull Ring – but thanks to the shambles overseen by Lerner, Lambert and Fox we are not.

    We are at a cross roads although I am convincenced so much damage has been done we can forget promotion this season and need to start looking to 2017/18. Clearly Steve Bruce thinks we need to rebuild, which is why we are making so much activity in the January transfer market – usally we don’t sign anybody.

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