AVST held a live Q&A with Aston Villa Chief Executive at the Trust’s AGM on 2 March. Members had the opportunity to question Keith on a variety of supporter issues.
Here are the matters that were discussed.
Q. Please expand on the philosophy relating to season ticket pricing.
A. The initial aim is to secure a bigger response from younger fans. Already 1,000 tickets have been sold of which 21% are new holders. We will continue to see offers as the selling programme proceeds.
Q. Can we have a loyalty scheme with incentives, if comparing ourselves to Wolves comparable tickets are much cheaper?
A. We will look at this.
Q. Are there any plans to expand the availability of concessionary seats where some have been disadvantaged by having to move?
A. Not fully aware of the rules but we will investigate.
Q. What are the plans for Steve Bruce?
A. He will be here for next season and we have confidence in his ability to bring success.
Q. What is the position regarding players out on loan?
A. Steve Bruce went to watch Veretout at Manchester United, Carles Gil is receiving good reviews in Spain and other loanees are constantly being monitored. Decisions will be taken at end of the season.
Q. What are our goals for next season?
A. To build a team to –
- Attain promotion.
- Retain a place in Premier League.
- That will see us operating among the top clubs in the country.
Q. What are the plans for the pre-season 2017/18?
A. We are looking at a match versus Watford to commemorate our joint connection with Graham Taylor.
Q. The recent financial figures show a loss of c£81m. What implications does this have for AVFC?
A. The relegation and change of ownership required different accounting treatments and much of the figure relates to impairments which are non-cash items.
Expanding on financials we are okay on FFP for this year and next and are planning for 2018/2019 were we to be still in Championship. However, if we are promoted FFP will not be an issue.
Q. The City centre store closure means that we no longer have any representation. What can be done to restore it?
A. The store lost £1.5m and was not viable on a continuing basis. We will look at other ways of promoting Aston Villa in the Centre and this may include pop-up shops at appropriate times of the year.
Q. What were the level of severance payments for staff and executives in the 2015/2016 financial accounts?
A. I do not have that information immediately to hand.
Q. The redundancy of the previous Player Welfare Officer was seen as a bad step when we have had so many new (overseas) players coming in and required help settling into the area. What is being done now?
A. 2 Specialist helpers have been recruited to assist players on all matters.
Q. Allegations of bullying have been made about the Academy. Can we be told more?
A. The investigation is on-going and nothing more can be said at moment. However, AVFC is fully committed to ensuring that all members of its staff are treated properly and young people are safeguarded.
Q. The conduct of some Aston Villa players off the pitch has been unacceptable. What actions are being taken to effect an improvement?
A. Steve Bruce is a very strict disciplinarian and players are constantly reminded of our expectations.
Q. Are there any plans for a Museum?
A. In short not at the moment but we will be looking at other ways of delivering aspects of our heritage digitally and possibly on a match by match basis.
Q. What is the position regarding safe standing?
A. I am in favour of some element but there are lots of issues to be considered and the matter is out for consultation. A change in current law would be needed to allow it to proceed.
Q. The positioning of TV cameras does not show VP to its best advantage with the top tier of Trinity Road closed. Can this be addressed?
A. The pitch will be re-laid at end of 2017/2018 and this will involve dropping the level of the pitch to permit the use of deeper LED boards. The positioning of cameras is at the behest of the TV companies and we have to comply with their requirements.
Q. The Trust has applied for Villa Park to become an Asset of Community Value and this is taking far longer that we were led to believe. Is there any reason that you know of why the outcome of the application is being delayed?
A. Not that I am aware of.
Q. What are the plans to redevelop the North Stand and Villa Park?
A. Any plans for the redevelopment of Villa Park would depend on traffic issues being resolved with the City Council.
Q. Under Armour appear to be connected in some way with the trophy killing of animals and this is not considered to be appropriate. There is a petition out and we feel this should be drawn to the attention of other clubs using Under Armour kit.
A. I am not aware of this situation but will look at it urgently.
Q. Are there any contingency plans in the event of Dr Xia’s demise?
A. Not at the moment. There are not believed to be any reasons why the flow of money from China should be impacted. Dr Xia loves the Villa and is very committed.