With Tottenham’s new stadium open for business and getting called “the best stadium in Europe”, it begs the question… is Villa Park ready for the Premier League?
Words by Alan Wilson (@VILLAlan54)
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With Aston Villa again able to boast the best home attendances in the Championship (this season an average after 20 home games of 35,283) and better than half of the Premier League teams to boot. As Villa’s late push for promotion has been seeing nigh on 40,000 fans flooding into Villa Park. It raises an old debate, what is the future of Villa Park and should Villa get promoted, is it fit for the Premier League and beyond.

When compared to a lot of the new brand of symmetrical bowls that have been built to replace ageing stadia around the UK, Villa Park still has a huge ‘wow factor’. Its oddball shape of different sized stands still manages to take the breath away. 

Whether you are looking at the angular but hugely imposing double-decker Holte-End, or the magnificent three-tiered Trinity Road with its unique design stradling the road outside, or even the slightly ageing but still impressive double-decker Doug Ellis stand, giving some temporary accomodation to away supporters, all looks and feels like a “proper football ground”.

But then, sitting alone and looking for all the world like it belongs somewhere else, somewhat embarrassingly, we come to VP’s ugly sister “The North Stand”. 

Image result for villa park expansion

Redevelopment of the Witton End stand began in the summer of 1976, a year after Villa returned to the old First Division after eight years away. The stand had not seen any major work since 1924, and its rear remained a mound of earth. Initial renovations saw the levelling of the earth and new concrete terraces constructed on the lower tier in preparation for the construction of an upper tier. Stage two began in February 1977 and was officially opened in late October. The stand’s design and fittings were impressive for the time, including novelties such as an ‘AV’ logo spelled out in coloured seats and a double row of executive boxes. It was renamed ‘The North Stand’.
Love it or hate it, for supporters the facilities in the North Stand are spartan to say the least. Tiny outdated toilet facilities are hugely disappointing. Small kiosks see fans waiting in huge queues for refreshments, if you choose to get a beer, or a pie at half-time, you are sure to miss the start of the second half! The exterior appearance of this stand which house offices and a club visitor reception area, are a huge letdown for Villa Park as a whole. 
When Dr Tony Xia took over the club in 2016, there were murmurs of excitement at rumours of a master plan to turn Villa Park into a ‘Super Stadium’ which would rank amongst the best in the world.

Of course, this announcement caused some controversy amongst the Villa faithful.

Surely nobody would dare sell the rights to rename Villa Park as a stadium carrying the name of a modern brand, or replace the famous Holte End with a benign, smooth curved stand. Amid this controversy emerged images of what a new North Stand could look like, a triple decker linking to the Trinity Road stand seamlessly and taking the capacity up to an impressive 51,000. Naturally, this would all have to wait until the club found themselves back in the big time.

So – what’s the future got in store for Villa Park?

Without a doubt, with the exciting run towards the end of the season and probable play-offs bringing close to capacity crowds into Villa Park, one can safely assume that there would be a demand will into the 45,000 to 50,00 mark for matches in the Premier League. 

Under the stewardship of billionaire owners – surely there has to have been mention of an impressive new look for Villa Park.

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