Three years ago a survey on safe standing conducted by the Aston Villa Supporter Trust found that of the 1000+ match-going Aston Villa supporters that were polled, 97% supported safe standing.
Similarly, a total of 97% of Villa supporters polled in a My Old Man Said survey stated there needed to be improvements in the atmosphere at Villa Park. Only 3% said the Villa Park atmosphere was fine as it is.
After MOMS had witnessed the safe standing trial at Celtic Park in action earlier this season, after taking in Celtic’s Champions League game against the Lincoln Red Imps, it was clear to see that such a section at Villa Park could seriously help with improving atmosphere.
The club under the Lerner administration had plans originally drawn up for a small Safe Standing trial in L9 section of the Holte End, a small cheese wedge like area in the corner under the scoreboard.
Progress slowed on a national level on the issue in recent years, mainly due to campaigners being sensitive to the Hillsborough inquests (although Safe Standing doesn’t have fences or any of the risks that the Leppings Lane terrace did).
With justice finally won for the fallen 96 Liverpool fans, with both the trial in Celtic and also last month’s declaration by the Premier League clubs requesting for the Premier League to investigate Safe Standing in earnest, feeling on the issue has galvanised once again.
The good news from an Aston Villa standpoint is new owner Tony Xia seems very supportive of Safe standing after he declared in an interview with The Times, he has expanded Safe Standing plans at Villa Park to two possible sections in the Holte End.
Xia’s recent meetings with Birmingham City Council members may have included discussion on the subject.
“I pretty much agree we can insert some safe standing,” Xia told The Times. “We might add two standing areas in-between a seating area. That would be interesting.”
Such a location would more than likely be the wings of the Lower Holte, that have variable occupancy rates, which would first of all lead to a fuller Holte End. That would be the business reason to have it, ticked.
It terms of improving the atmosphere, it could potentially resurrect an old Holte End tradition, and lead to the return of the ‘right side’ and the ‘left side’ of the Holte End. Over the years of the standing Holte, both sides would sing songs back and forth and occasionally challenge each other in the loudness stakes.
The original plan of just having a small wedge of standing in the L9 was more like decoration, but to have two banks of safe standing either side of the Lower Holte would actually make it a more purposeful and useful trial in terms of seeing the potential positive effects on the atmosphere of the Holte and Villa Park, that Safe Standing could bring.
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