FAN VIEW

By Robert Smith

In the aftermath of our latest cup fiasco, a 3-1 home defeat against Peterborough, surely its now time for the club to think again about their pricing policy for cup matches.

The truth be told the FA Cup’s stock has dropped considerably in the eyes of most clubs, resulting in managers fielding weaken teams, leaving supporters to fork out for matches where players are simply getting game time rather than competing in a fixture a team is set up to win.

‘The magic of the cup’ has now been reduced to nothing more than a marketing phrase the BBC use.

Supporters are being cheated somewhat. After all, would a Villa fan fly all the way to Moscow to watch Villa in a European match, if they knew in advance an XI of youngsters and squad players would be rolled out, instead of trying to win the tie with the first XI?

Villa’s price for the FA Cup game were £15 for an adult ticket (£10 if you’re a season ticket holder), which matched the earlier League Cup prices, although season ticket holders got into the Wigan game for free.

Against Middlesborough in the League Cup the prices were £15 (adults), £10 (concessions), £10 (U21s) and £5 (U16s).

The FA Cup fixture against the Posh, saw U16 fans only charged £1 (instead of £5).

The free season ticket offer saw 18,108 fans turn up for the midweek Wigan game, while the next round saw a crowd of just 11,197 see Villa crash out the League Cup 2-0 to Middlesborough (although it was the second time the teams had played in a matter of days, with an attendance of 26,631 for the league clash).

The FA Cup game against Peterborough saw 21,677 attended with the U16 price of a quid and decent away following boosting the attendance.

If Villa (or most football teams) have little intention to take cup fixtures seriously now, it will surely be increasingly a case of once bitten, twice shy. Crowds will drop further.

If we are watching the second string, then the prices should perhaps reflect more closely those of a U-23 league match (free for season ticket holders and a nominal charge for others) than they do now.

Realistically though, it would be interesting to see what the projected costing of having a top line cost of £10 a ticket for cup games against teams outside the Premier League. What kind of crowds would Villa expect?

If the club can’t handle this, then the club should respect their customers and play a stronger eleven and play to win. After all, aren’t a Villa fan’s best recent memories, cup ones?

Wide Berth

There is another option. What about not entering the cups at all?

Its entirely possible, the red Mancs dropped out in 1999 to play in the now defunct World Club Championship.

Sounds a bit revolutionary, but if we’re not going to take cups seriously, I for one would not miss stumbling through maybe one or two rounds before either getting beaten by a Premier League team reserve side or humiliated by lower league opposition.

How much money did the Villa actually make from Saturday’s game against Peterborough?

Luckily for our financial dept, Peterborough brought 4,500 followers but what if we’d have drawn another Championship club weary of many visits to Villa Park? The attendance would have been a further embarrassment.

I confess my main focus during the third round draw was that we avoided a non league or league two team who might just beat us and allow the media to heap scorn on our great club once again. This time Stoke were good enough to take most of the focus away from us but can we honestly say we’d have got a better result at the Ricoh?

As someone who experienced Coventry fans delight when beating us in the 80’s and 90’s I really, really wouldn’t want to find out.

Its time for the club to be honest, go out to win and charge us accordingly, or make it a free party (/low-cost) where we all enjoy ourselves and support the kids regardless of the result.

……Or forget the whole thing.

UTV

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