Villa Park’s Transport Elephant
At the Aston Villa Fan Consultation Group meeting this week at Villa Park, that saw the club presenting its plans to rebuild the North Stand and boost Villa’s capacity to 50,000+, there was an elephant in the room. How would the current transport network that is unable to service 42,000 fans, cater for an additional 10,000 visitors to Villa Park?
A My Old Man Said representative had put forward the idea of running barges up the canal from Birmingham City Centre to Aston to help tackle the issue. The booze cruise concept, if you will, would allow Villa supporters to get their pre-game drink on, while travelling to the stadium and then, on the way home, enjoy post-match drinks after the game.
A club rep dismissed the idea as “impractical” and “not the kind of image the club was looking to cultivate”, before admitting, that Villa CEO Christian Purslow had already come up with the perfect solution to eradicate all the transport concerns of the new North Stand development.
Ironically, Purslow’s plan does actually utilise the same canal link from the city centre to Aston, but in a much more ingenious way by running a monorail over the top of it (similiar to the Birmingham Airport monorail). A major plus is that it wouldn’t compromise any existing roads or public transport routes, in directly transporting supporters to Villa Park.
Essentially, the idea would be to have an onboarding station near Snow Hill and then run the monorail on a track framework over the canal network up to the canal exit point across the road from Aston train station.
“The ready made route effectively allows us to build a new transport network with minimal interruption or major planning permission,” said the Villa representative at the FCG meeting.
“The recent increases in season ticket prices and Villa training gear would both cover the cost of construction and make it a free-to-use service for current Aston Villa season ticket holders.”
Birmingham City Council have apparently welcomed Villa’s innovative approach to solving the undoubted traffic issue to-and-from Villa Park on a match day.
“We were very concerned about Villa’s recent North Stand redevelopment plans to expand Villa Park to 50,000+, mainly due to the existing poor transport infrastructure,” admitted a Birmingham City Council spokesman, in a recent radio interview.
“Obviously we are especially keen to encourage Aston Villa to take agency over solving the transport issue, due to the WMCA’s recent ineptitude in completing Birmingham’s tram infrastructure.”
The Council spokesman in the same interview did say, that she thought the monorail idea might not be for some Villa supporters and maybe the concept would be more suitable to the “more progressive types of Molineux”. Citing Wolves reputation for being early adopters with their record label and their rail seats.
At the recent Villa Fan Consultation Group meeting, ideas to capture the hearts and minds of such potential Villa supporter resistance to the monorail project were brainstormed. Something that could be front and centre of the club’s marketing strategy to launch the monorail initiative was certainly needed.
The most popular suggestion seemed to be the idea of having a song to promote the monorail.
The song could be debuted at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on 28 July 2022, when all eyes would be on the city.
The club is expected to launch a poll next week to allow supporters to vote on who should have the honour of singing it at Alexander Stadium.
Although not confirmed at this stage, possible candidates are rumoured to be Gabby Agbonlahor, Doctor Tony Xia (if he can be found) and local Villa Birmingham Live reporter Ashley Preece.
A Venglos View is a satirical (and sometimes surreal) look at the Villaverse…
If you know, you know… where the inspiration for this came from…