You may have noticed that in the last two Villa matches at Villa Park, the ‘One Stan Petrov’ banner has been nowhere to be seen.
Well, for the West Brom game, the Brigada 1874 Villa supporter ultra group forgot the banner on the back of the coach back from the previous away game against Southampton! Well, after that 4-1 defeat, it’s not surprising you could be forgetful since most Villa fans would have felt a bit numb and disoriented.
Luckily, the banner was retrieved.
The reason why it didn’t surface at the recent Norwich City game though is a different story all together.
On entering L8 of the Holte, members of the Brigada 1874 and fellow Villa fans were met by around 10 stewards; lined down the stairs, checking everyone’s tickets (I thought that’s what the computerised turnstile was for?) During the game a CCTV camera was fixed on the supporter group for the 90 minutes, while stewards also took pictures of them. There was an undeniable air of intimidation.
After the group surfed the banner during the 19 minute applause for Petrov at the Swansea game, despite the club’s ban on its usage during that time, the club seem to be intent on forcing it’s will, despite calls for common sense on the matter.
The group chose not to surf the ‘One Stan Petrov’ banner, as it looked like the club were looking for any excuse to remove them from the ground. They felt that their cause and that of the team would be better served if they remained in the ground. Brigada have informed MOMS that they get the feeling this maybe actually the club’s agenda to remove them, if the banner was surfed.
For a supporter’s group to even feel this in their own ground is just out-of-order. Several other Villa fans have also expressed this feeling due to the over-the-top presence of stewards and surveillance at the Norwich game.
After groups like the Brigada have tried to lift the atmosphere in the Holte End and have received much positive praise from fellow supporters in doing so, it’s strange this is how the club repay them – by making them feel unwelcome in their own ground.
There’s an irony to club officials publicly backing the bid for safe standing. What’s at the heart of that decision? A better supporter experience? Or is it the potential increased revenue?
The club’s latest marketing material (see below) to try to sell tickets for the empty seats in an increasingly sanitised Villa Park, carries the tag line of ‘Putting the Pieces Together’. If they’re not careful with the way they treat their supporters, they may be in danger of losing the most vital piece.
Please sign the petition on the middle right-hand side of the page to support the continued flying of the ‘One Stan Petrov’ banner for the minute during the Petrov applause and encourage a rethink and more rational approach by the club (Please don’t forget to click the confirmation email you’ll receive!)
Follow MOMS on Twitter at @oldmansaid