You questions answered: March 2014
Club responds to supporter questions.
24th Mar 2014
You questions answered: March 2014


Club officials - including Chief Executive Paul Faulkner - met with fans in the 1874 Lounge on the eve of the Chelsea match.

As well as discussing all things claret and blue, the mixture of fans at the meeting discussed a range of topics with their most important ideas, suggestions and questions formulated below.

As well as giving opinions, fans were also able to taste some delicious food as new matchday options were laid on during the night.

These questions below have been forwarded to the appropriate Head of Department at the club and both the questions and our responses are published below:

Question One] Could we purchase vouchers to speed up catering transactions?

Unfortunately a voucher system, it is felt, would not speed up catering transactions.

Often the speed of service is restricted due to the infrastructure of the stadium in certain stands and the age of the concourses.

We are mindful of the opportunities we face and endeavour to adopt a proactive approach by utilisation of hawkers to assist in getting the product to the fans, using beer carts strategically placed on the concourse to assist with service, and - where network cables will allow - additional till points added as well as signage improved to encourage fans to perhaps use other kiosks within close proximity.

In the closed season, we will endeavour to investigate further a convenient web and smartphone pre order solution which allows fans to "jump" queues through pre ordering and using a fast track lane.

This is in very early stages of investigation at this time and we will keep you updated.

Alison Plant - Head of Sponsorship and Hospitality

Question Two] Can the catering kiosks be set up to accept Villa Cash to improve service?

We are currently working with our technical partners to scope the work required to enable supporters to earn and spend Villa Cash at the catering kiosks on the concourses.

We will keep supporters up-to-date on a potential roll-out date for this. In the meantime, supporters can use their Villa Cash to purchase a 'matchday voucher' book from the ticket office or Villa Store, which can then be redeemed on the concourses.

Priced at £10, the voucher book contains 2 x pie or beer vouchers, 1 x tea or soft drink voucher, and 1 x Holte Suite entry with matchday programme voucher.

Russell Jones - Head of Marketing and Communications

Question Three] Could there be an option to give 'Villa Cash' to Acorns or an alternative charity?

Villa Cash is currently an internal club scheme where supporters can only earn and spend Villa Cash within the club - i.e. on Villa products and services.

As a result, it is not possible to donate your Villa Cash to a charity of your choice and, for the same reason, it is not possible to spend or earn Villa Cash on away tickets.

Having said that, the scheme is still in its infancy and we will continue to listen to supporter feedback and explore ideas like this one over the coming seasons.

Russell Jones - Head of Marketing and Communications

Question Four] Is there an option to make a payment to top up Villa Cash?

This is not currently an option and we have no plans to introduce this option to supporters in the short term.

Our main priorities in terms of Villa Cash development are to offer supporters the ability to earn and spend Villa Cash off food and drink on the concourses and also enable Villa Cash to be spent at the online ticket office.

Beyond this, we will continue to listen to supporter feedback and look to develop and refine the scheme over the coming seasons.

Russell Jones - Head of Marketing and Communications

Question Five] Are there plans to expand the Villa Cash scheme?

Looking ahead to next season, all 2014-15 season ticket holders, corporate members and box holders - and JV-Life members - will be automatically enrolled onto the Villa Cash scheme.

We may also look to introduce Villa Cash as part of a standalone club membership scheme in the future.

Russell Jones - Head of Marketing and Communications

Question Six] Why is there a cut-off date for Villa Cash?

As Villa Cash is currently only open to season ticket holders and corporate seasonal members, the start and end dates of August 1 - July 31, reflect a seasonal membership.

If you still have a Villa Cash balance, then don't forget you can use it against the cost of your 2014/15 season ticket until July 31, 2014.

More information is available at www.avfc.co.uk/villacash.

Russell Jones - Head of Marketing and Communications

Question Seven] Can we have an option of direct debit for season tickets?

The club currently offer the option to pay by direct debit via Zebra Finance at no cost - for all season tickets purchased before May 30 and would encourage anyone wishing to spread the cost of their season ticket to contact the ticket office.

Nicola Keye - Head of Consumer Sales

Question Eight]

Can you improve access to Wi-Fi and the signal using phones on matchday?

The club is aware that Wi-Fi connection within the bowl on matchdays has become an increasingly requested service.

High density Wi-Fi is technically problematic but we are closely watching the market, the changing technology and reviewing periodically.

Mobile service in stadiums is also a problem due to density of users and we have been working hard with Vodafone to improve voice and data services at Villa Park.

We are making excellent progress and hope to make an exciting announcement very soon.

Keep an eye on the official website for full details.

Richard Hollingsworth - Head of IT

Question Nine] Can the club consider reduced portion sizes and pricing for children?

This season we did do smaller and cheaper child friendly meal deal options within the family stand, sales of which we have been monitoring throughout the season.

The meal deals we offered are:

Chicken nuggets, chips and a drink for £4 (the drink offered is a 375ml Coke or 330ml Capri Sun)
Mini hot dog and chips and a drink £4 (the drink offered is a 375ml Coke or 330ml Capri Sun)

We are in the process of pinpointing other kiosks where space will allow for us to promote this offer further.

Alison Plant - Head of Sponsorship and Hospitality

Question 10] What is the progress with safe standing?

Since Anne-Marie Fern's survey of more than 1,000 Villa fans in the autumn of last year, when over 97.5% of our fans backed safe standing, we have continued to support the overall FSF-led campaign for there to be a sensible debate about introducing safe standing areas to grounds in the Premier League and Championship.

We participated in the launch of such an area at Bristol City's ground in February and used that occasion to once again give our public support for the campaign.

It does feel as though the safe standing campaign has some real momentum now, helped in no small part by the efforts of our club and supporters such as Anne-Marie and those who took the time to complete her survey and we'll continue to give our full support to the campaign.

As more and more clubs join us in indicating their support then I am sure it will come under discussion at the Premier League before too long.

Paul Faulkner - Chief Executive

Question Eleven] Can we have chicken and mushroom pies back on matchday?

We are not averse to re-introducing this product.

We merely opted to streamline the pie offer and with chicken and mushroom only totalling 19.5% of total pie sales, this seemed a sensible removal from our offering.

We have recently begun to introduce a "Pie of the Match". These are from the Pukka range - and are changed each match.

Chicken and mushroom was the promoted pie for the West Ham Game.

Alison Plant - Head of Sponsorship and Hospitality

Question Twelve] As the number of female fans are growing, what is the club doing to improve the facilities for them?

As a club we understand that the matchday experience is changing with more females, families and children now attending home games.

We, of course, want to keep up to date with these changes and look to improve our facilities where we can.

Concourse areas and toilet area design is something we take very seriously as we try and ensure we utilise what space we have to meet the demands of a 40,000-plus seated stadium.

Currently within our concourses we have 25 female toilet areas which fully complies with stadium regulations.

However, that said we will look to continuously improve these areas and provide additional facilities where possible.

Richard Carpenter - Head of Facilities

Question Thirteen] Can we provide players before the match for the family fun area (autographs/Q&A etc)?

This is something we have tried and indeed delivered successfully this season.

The problem is that we don't know until the last minute which players will be available so it is difficult to pre-promote.

At the same time there have been occasions when we have promoted player attendance and, due to squad changes on the day of the game, players have become unavailable.

The very nature of matchday means that this scenario is very likely to occur and the last thing we want to do is disappoint fans.

As a result we will be looking into former player attendance and youth player attendance moving forward as we continue to improve the very popular family fun zone.

Russell Jones - Head of Marketing and Communications

Question Fourteen] Can the club consider offering further loyalty to season card holders by way of discounted food/drink and/or season ticket-only queues in the concourse areas?

The Holte Suite, Academy and the Holte Pub are all season ticket holder-only areas - in each of these facilities beer prices are reduced by 50p per pint every matchday, with the exception of the Holte Suite at half-time as the facility is opened up to all fans for this 15 minute window.

We have been working on the "fans experience" within the Holte Suite, with the facility opening earlier to accommodate viewing of other sporting events, and coupling this with a discounted early bird offering from the food points.

In addition we have been able to offer sampling of products in conjunction with our beer pouring partner Carlsberg.

We are committed to continue to "add value" to our season ticket areas.

Season ticket-only queues unfortunately would be very difficult to champion due to the limited space in some areas of the concourses.

Should we be able to deliver a pre-order system moving forward this would hopefully assist with the movement of queues.

Alison Plant - Head of Sponsorship and Hospitality

Question Fifteen] What was the rationale behind increasing season ticket prices?

Price increases are kept to a minimum and our season tickets continue to be well priced and are among some of the cheapest in the Barclays Premier League.

Adult ticket prices start from less than £18 per game and a family of four can come for less than £40

Nicola Keye - Head of Consumer Sales

Question Sixteen] SUGGESTION - Offer a cup holder (sponsored to build in profit to the club) to be sold at a modest cost that could be attached to the gap in the seat in front.

This is an interesting question and something that I have personally looked into in the past in terms of ways in which we can improve our spectator experience.

There are very few products on the market that meet the specification of what we would look to install i.e. the design would have to be robust enough to prevent it being knocked off/damaged.

To provide a suitable cup holder in which a supporter can purchase and attach to the seat in front raises a concern that it could cause a hazard if not fixed correctly especially if holding a hot drink.

There could be the option that a drinks holder is available to purchase as a season ticket holder with the drinks holder installed at his/hers seat for the season.

However, this option would again depend on whether or not there is suitable enough product on the market.

Richard Carpenter - Head of Facilities

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