What happens to the fans if we go down? At this stage, it is not even a case of ‘if’ really. How will support for Aston Villa Football change following relegation? How has the support for our club changed already?
Not that many years ago, when Martin O’Neill was in charge and when Randy Lerner both cared and financially supported the club, the support was better. Given our position, the support at the moment is still fantastic, but there is no denying that there are fewer people going to our home games these days. We used to get crowds of 40,000 and we now get 35,000. I believe attendances will get worse if we go down.
A lot of fans who used to make an appearance at Villa Park in support of their club, putting on their colours and singing the songs, now don’t bother because they feel it just isn’t worth it. In the Championship, fewer people still will make the effort to go to matches and Villa’s active supporters will unfortunately decrease in number.
What’s even more unfortunate is that my generation will have fewer Villa fans than previous generations. The current generation of fans grew up supporting their local club. They also grew up in a time in which Aston Villa was a huge club whose players won trophies. Today’s youth will only know an Aston Villa of failure and, with the rise of televised football, it gets ever easier and more common for youngsters to support rich teams with big names playing attractive football for them. No Villa fan wants to support a Championship club but people do not stop supporting a club overnight so I imagine that the majority of season ticket holders will stick by the club, hoping for happier times. Things are different for some of the many young people who have never known a successful Villa team and it is my opinion that relegation may persuade them to spend their money elsewhere. Without the lure of Premier League football, attracting new fans will be a real challenge.
As fans, we consider Aston Villa to be a ‘big club’. We have an incredible history and, at the moment, a relatively large support base. Premier League or not, I don’t think Randy Lerner can keep the support that his once-great club currently enjoys. With his equally clueless right hand man Tom Fox having anyone who dares to question him removed from his line of vision, some angry Villa fans are going to stay away either in protest at how the club has been run or through frustration. If we are honest, the board, combinesd with a few of the players, are doing more than enough to ensure that supporting Aston Villa is a frustrating job.