After a disaster of a season, if you want to turn things around and fire up the focus on the season ahead, you have to make a gesture to supporters and get them on side again.
One way to do it is a proper gesture on ticket prices and Villa’s fellow relegation victims and strongest rivals next season, Newcastle United, have certainly done that.
While Villa offered an underwhelming £10 off season ticket prices next season, Newcastle announced that ‘a new ten per cent discount has now been applied to reward supporters’ loyalty.’ The reduction has been made across the board on season tickets, which will no doubt help rally their fan base.
Lee Charnley, managing director at Newcastle United, said:
“Your loyalty through these challenging time has been magnificent and it is right that we now reward you with savings for our 2016/17 Championship season.”
After Rafa Benitez signed on the dotted line to continue at Newcastle last week, the club confirming such a reduction on season tickets, both says ‘sorry’ for the previous season and will help get the Geordies in to fill St. James’ Park for the promotion push. The fact they’ve already come up with the hashtag #JoinTheRafalution, also suggests from a marketing point of view, that it’s all systems go on the promotion push.
In comparison, Villa decided to close the upper tier of one of the Trinity stand despite having lost hundreds of seats in the North stand due to the wheelchair conversation. It’s indicative of the kind of short-sighted conservatism that has cramped the club’s ambition in recent years.
The season finished a fortnight ago, yet a new owner hasn’t been sworn in yet , the club is still managerless and the players reportedly don’t even know when pre-season starts.
Unless they can summon the spirit of Denmark in the 1992 European Championships (they won the tournament with zero preparation, after filling in for war-torn Yugoslavia), then it could be a precarious season ahead.
MOMS have already suggested to the club in the Fans Consultancy Group meeting to Steve Hollis and Nicky Keye, that the club should consider following the route that Leeds United have gone down in offering season ticket holders a 25 to 50% rebate if the team fail to at least make the Championship play-offs. Obviously, it’s something that should be flagged up again with Tony Xia and his board.
If everything goes ok with the ‘Fit and Proper’ tests on Tony Xia and his team, then incentives to re-energise the Villa fanbase – either a reduction or potential rebate – should be one of the first items on the new board’s agenda.
Promotion is key and we can’t afford to waste any more time.
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid