Over the past few weeks, speculation about who will buy Aston Villa has increased, with the American Phoenix Group being the company that has reported to have agreed a deal with Randy Lerner. If the deal goes ahead, whoever finally buys us needs to know what improvements are required at Aston Villa.
At the start of the year, Tom Fox stated that he wanted Villa to be in the “top six of the Premier League” within the next three to five years and believes “the ambitious aim is achievable”. He might have reconsidered that after finding out that Paul Lambert wasn’t the man to bring success to B6. Despite this, if he wants the Villans to be in Europe then there has to be change. When our new buyer comes in and assesses the situation, he will find that improvements are needed. There is much that could be improved at Aston Villa at the moment, including putting money into the squad, building up the academy and increasing our scouting network. I feel the long-term improvement we need is to Villa Park itself. Villa Park’s capacity at the moment is 42,682. Although we often see empty seats, Aston Villa has one of the biggest fan bases in world football and we have less than half the capacity of Barcelona’s Camp Nou. If we get into Europe, we need to have a stadium that not only attracts as many fans as we can but one that could also attract big players.
There were plans to rebuild the North Stand in a similar style to the Trinity Stand in 2010. This would have taken Villa Park above 50,000 capacity. However, the plans fell through. Whether or not this is a coincidence is hard to say but we didn’t get into Europe that year under Martin O’Neill. Since then, we have continued to slide down the league table after what looked like a possible European return. If the plans had gone ahead and players saw that the officials at Villa were eager to get into Europe then it could have been a different story – and we probably wouldn’t be in the struggle that we are in now.
We know that the Trinity Road and the Holte End Stands don’t need any immediate improvements. The Trinity Road Stand was built within the last fifteen years and the Holte End is the heart and soul of Villa Park. Considering this, I would want a new owner to improve both the North Stand and the Doug Ellis Stand. Like the plans before, it would be good if they would make them both like the Trinity Stand and link all of them together to leave just the Holte End standing by itself. If this was put forward then I could see Villa Park reaching a capacity of around 60,000, similar to the Emirates Stadium.
Increasing the capacity of our stadium would not only make us look like a club that is pushing for involvement in the top competitions bt could generate more money from ticket sales, with more fans coming to watch the Villans play. It would also make Villa Park a modern stadium and hopefully it would make Aston Villa play competitive football for years to come.
Improvements are needed at the club. Investment into the first team squad is a must, including bringing our youth talent through to the first team, which over the years has paid off with the likes of Grealish, Clark and Agbonlahor. In the longer term, the improvement of our stadium needs to be considered. First, we need to ensure that the Villans are competitive again and reaching towards a top five finish.