Aston Villa are looking to kick start a virtuous circle. Having improved the playing squad’s of the men’s, women’s and youth teams, while also introducing a new high performance center at the club’s Bodymoor Heath training ground, owner’s Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens have now set their sight’s on Villa Park.
The long rumored Villa Park redevelopment plans were finally made public via an interview with CEO, Christian Purslow, and a fan consultation survey this week. Some of its elements have long been known; the North Stand, the stand most in need of an upgrade, will be entirely replaced and the corner to the Trinity Road stand filled. Other elements are far grander than many expected. It was similarly well known the club shop would receive an expansion, but the new ‘Villa Live’ location looks to be far more than that, with retail sections, a museum, food and drinks on offer. As Purslow stated, the club’s desire was to turn Villa Park from a venue for 19 home games a season into one that could be used for 365 days a year.
No matter how one view’s modern professional football clubs, it is undeniable that they are made of three intersecting and often competing parts: The sporting entity in which is determined to rise up the league table, the increasingly global community project, and finally, the business. It is this last part that is increasingly prioritized in the modern era. Fans have seen the drawbacks of this as some were hit with a three-fold increase to their season ticket price. Equally concerning has been the obvious markup of the Castore training kit compared to other clubs with the same brand, as well as the increased price of a VillaTV subscription to view preseason games. Less remarked upon, however, is how that business has, and with Villa Park’s expansion, continue to positively impact sporting success and the club’s local and global community. This is the virtuous circle — investment in Aston Villa’s on-pitch success engages and grows the fan base, who in turn increase the revenue of the club’s business arm.
To see this cycle at work, one need only look at Villa’s journey so far under NSWE. Thus far, the owners’ have invested in the club’s sporting arm to great success, with both men’s and women’s teams being promoted into the Premier League and Super League, and will look to move on up their respective tables next season. The opening of Bodymoor Heath’s high performance center helps the club attract top players for their playing squads to assist this. This has engaged Villa’s fan base, with the waiting list for season tickets for the men’s side as long as 25,000 people. Consequently, the club now have the evidence needed to kick-off their stadium redevelopment. Purslow has stated that this will take place in multiple stages, with the aforementioned improvements comprising phase one — taking the stadium to over a 50,000 seat capacity. The added revenue of the larger Villa Park and increased usage of the grounds with Villa Live will help fund further developments in the proposed multi-phase project. The exact details for further phases are not yet known, though it is safe to say they will involve improvements to The Doug Ellis/Witton Road Stand as well as The Holte End, continuing the cycle of improvement.
Christian Purslow further stated the importance of the timing for this project, as it will allow the stadium to represent the Midlands hosting international matches. This particular honor has most recently fallen to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux Stadium in recent years, but with the current development plans for Villa Park, the completion of the project will be in time for the United Kingdom and Ireland’s joint Euro 2028 bid. The improvement also combines with Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street’s, plan to improve the local transport infrastructure, benefiting the local community and helping to regenerate the long neglected area. The potential of improved entertainment facilities at Villa Live should improve the Villa Park experience for fans making the trip to a match, both from a local and international fandom perspective.
Most importantly, the cycle will feed the quality of Aston Villa’s football. Results for both senior sides in the coming season need to meet the mantra of ‘continuous improvement’ on the pitch to further embolden the plans off it.