Remember Bradford City?
Yes, that Bradford City — the formerly-fourth-tier club that knocked Villa out of the League Cup semi-final in 2013 — who just so happens to be a potential opponent for Aston Villa next year in the Championship. The Bantams, in their third year in League One, are lined up for a promotion play-off spot, sitting in third place, six back of second-placed Burton Albion but eight ahead of seventh-placed Barnsley.
But right off the pitch, they have one of the best stories in English football — and that comes in the crowd.
You see, this year, season tickets started at £149 for Bantams supporters and it’s had a huge impact: Bradford are 12-5-4 at home this year in League One play, surely boosted by the nearly 18,000 supporters on hand each week at Valley Parade.
Not only do Bradford have the second-highest attendance in League One, but they’re also the only club in the division filling more than 70% of their capacity on average. The Bantams draw more than 16 of the 24 clubs currently in the Championship — including sides like Hull City, Birmingham City and Fulham — and if they win another promotion this year, attendances north of 20,000 are plausible, if not expected.
And while, yes, Bradford are probably "bigger" than your average League One side, we’ve still seen them significantly beat out clubs like Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City and Bolton Wanderers this term.
- That the average matchday ticket price at Villa Park for next season be £20.
- That loyal season ticket holders should be given progressive discounts based on how many years they’ve been a member, and that discounts would be carried forward.
- That youth and young adult tickets are further reduced to build a strong Villa fan base moving forward.
- That Villa supporters pay no more than £30 away from B6 next season, in line with the Premier League’s new policies.
Something Villa have been shockingly poor with over the last few years has been home form, and that’s going to need to turn around immediately upon arrival in the Championship if a promotion push can even be considered next season, and there’s no better way to help boost that than to have lower ticket prices, more-crowded stands and energetic supporters, finally feeling like the club’s hierarchy actually, well, cares about them for once.
Hell, I’d love to see the club go a little farther than that £20 figure; if 30,000-plus turn up to Villa Park every weekend and we can pack the ground for the big matches — not just Birmingham City but Newcastle United, Sunderland, Derby County, Wolverhampton Wanderers, etc. — the club figure to have a much better chance of finding success in the Championship than not.
Look, to pretend that everything at Aston Villa isn’t broken right now would be a ludicrous idea. And no one individual thing is going to change that — be it ticket prices, a new manager or a couple new signings. But as the club prepares to embark on its biggest rebuilding effort ever, it would be a perfect time for the new leadership at B6 to make a statement:
That suddenly, supporters matter again at Villa Park.