Today In "How To Lose PR Battles" Starring Aston Villa Football Club

(Hint -- this is not the banner. Just in case you were confused)

As you've no doubt heard elsewhere, Aston Villa have banned fans in the L8 section of the Holte End from displaying an overhead "One Stan Petrov" banner during the 19th minute applause for the ailing club captain. The decision was reportedly in response to the complaints of fans in the section not affiliated with the Brigada 1874 supporters group that is responsible for the flag's creation. I think it's important to note at the outset that I've only heard one side of this story, and it's the side opposed to the actions the club has taken. It's entirely possible that some key details of the situation are missing from the version of events that I've heard. If that's the case, please fill me in.

Because frankly, on the face of it, this just seems like an incredibly dumb stance for the club to take. Stiliyan Petrov is an incredibly beloved figure and the way the fans have united in support behind him during what has been an otherwise incredibly bad and divisive year for Aston Villa has been inspiring. Seeing all of Jeld-Wen Field stand and clap while the Villa supporters belted out a refrain of "One Stiliyan Petrov" during Aston Villa's friendly against the Portland Timbers was one of the most emotional moments I've ever experienced at a sporting event, and the 19th minute tribute of every game still gets to me after all this time. I understand that I'm less concerned about my view being momentarily blocked than others might be, but it's very difficult for me to envision the kind of person that would complain to the club about a banner paying tribute to Stiliyan Petrov being some kind of an inconvenience.

The club is certainly in an unenviable position, because paying customers have complained. If nothing was done, I'm sure they'd be on the receiving of criticism of a different kind. But at a certain point, the squeakiest wheel isn't the one that ought to get the grease. The approach being taken by Aston Villa in this situation is most certainly not limited to them; rather, it's a larger societal issue that bugs me to no end and instead of going on a several-thousand word rant that will likely end up being only tangentially related to football I'll just say that people really need to be better about employing common sense and leave it at that.

Given that a lot of people seem to be upset about this and there is currently a petition to the club circulating, I doubt we've heard the end of this. And despite my feelings on the matter, I'd hope that everyone involved will be reasonable in their approach. Hopefully some sort of mutually agreeable solution can be found, because arguing over the most appropriate way in which to honor Stan seems tremendously counterproductive.

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