Aston Villa have been confirmed as the first club in the world to integrate pre-paid contactless and chip and pin payment technology into our season and member cards.
The new technology will enable fans to use season/member cards in the same way as any pre-paid payment card, including contactless payments up to £30, with supporters earning Pride Rewards points at a ratio of one point for every pound spent.
The world-first will be discussed in the coming weeks as Head of Data & Insight, Matt Swindells, features on the Gadget Show on Channel 5.
As part of the innovative scheme, fans will be able to use their cards to enter the stadium, and at all Villa Park payment terminals - including concourses - the Ticket Office and the Aston Villa Store.
In addition, the card will enable fans to shop online, both at the online store and soon on the high street at a host of affiliate retailers who will be announced in due course.
Only cash loaded on to the card can be used and transactions will work in exactly the same way as a payment card.
Pride Rewards accounts are accessed from either a log-in on our website or via the official app and are fully integrated into Fan ID’s.
Traditionally season and member cards have been restricted to stadium access and online members benefits but, by introducing the integrated payment capability, we will be able to build up a more detailed and personalised understanding of each season ticket holder.
The technology behind the new integrated payment and stadium access card is being provided by FortressGB, one of the world’s leading providers of loyalty, payment and access solutions to the sports and entertainment industry.
Villa Park could enjoy 5G if a forward-thinking plan is rubber-stamped by the Government later this year.
Aston Villa have teamed up with Aston University, Birmingham University and the University of Surrey’s 5G innovation centre.
The Government have committed an initial pot of £29m to create five test sites to put 5G in place – with our excited consortium eager to be one of them.
If the bid is accepted – creating a pot of £10m - the consortium would then be bound together legally before deploying the necessary technology to reach phase 2 of the project – which opens up the potential for £40m extra funding.
Luke Organ, the club’s Chief Commercial Officer, told us: “If we win this bid, the overall objective, in line with Dr Tony Xia’s ‘Connected Cities’ strategy, is to displace the need for Wi-Fi and bring in 5G across Villa Park.
“We then don’t have the infrastructure issues than an older facility like Villa Park gives us and we’d be at the forefront of technology once again – something we are very passionate about.”
The additional bonus could also see Aston Villa owning the 5G ‘standard’ – which would see royalty opportunities in the future.
For now, it’s fingers crossed as we wait for a decision from the Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Holte Pub revival?
Aston Villa can reveal we are in “active discussions” to bring the Holte back as a fully-operational gastro pub.
The Holte Pub is currently open on a matchday – and also through the week as a conference venue.
But club chiefs are exploring the possibility of returning it to its former glory as a place for good food and good drink, including a cool rebrand and makeover inside which will also respect its traditions as a proud landmark in B6.
There are a “number of parties” interested in the project, with all of them offering an exciting future for the majestic former hotel, which dates back to the 19th century.
Half Season boost
Aston Villa have achieved its best Half Season ticket take-up for eight years.
Half Season tickets offer a passport for the second half of the 2017/18 campaign as Steve Bruce looks to lead us back into the Premier League.
Our promotion bid will be shaped further in this period - Wolves, Cardiff City, Leeds United, Preston and Derby – who are all in and around the promotion fight – come to B6, for what could prove to be make or break fixtures.
Fans flocked to snap up Half Season tickets, with 1,261 sold in total – the best number since the 2009/10 campaign when we finished sixth in the top-flight and reached the League Cup final.
Lynne O’Reardon, Head of Ticketing Operations, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the take-up from our fans, who will be backing the team in big numbers during this now-vital period of the season.
“The number exceeded our expectations and all we hope now is that we can give them some moments to treasure as the campaign reaches its conclusion.”
Aston Villa were on fire during the win over Bristol City – and it was pretty hot before the game too.
As you will have seen, the Doug Ellis Stand-side of the stadium lit up with thirteen flame systems and six pyro pods giving the players and supporters a very warm welcome to 2018.
Fan reaction to the display has been good and we can confirm plans to fire everyone up once again before the close of the campaign.
Following a 5-0 victory, we’d be crazy not to!