Aston Villa are making a habit of showcasing the Aston Villa Women. After all, it’s all one club.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa are making a habit of treating their Women’s side with the respect they deserve – something that is exceptional to see. After all, it is one club, but two teams, with only gender and their respective competitions separating them.
Following Aston Villa Women’s promotion to the FA Women’s Super League at the conclusion of the most recent season, both sides are now at the peak of their league structures, with Gemma Davies’ side now hoping to replicate, or better, the male side’s result of remaining in the top flight at the first time of asking.
Since the arrival of owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, and CEO Christian Purslow, there has been a stronger focus on, well, strengthening the Women’s side of the game in B6. Young talents have been latched onto professional contracts whilst the club was still in the FA Women’s Championship, whilst smaller, yet still important things such as the club having their first individual shirt sponsor in Guard Industry UK have also borne fruit.
Since then, a number of high-profile signings have been made during both last season and the lead-up to the new season which starts early next month. The likes of Emma Follis and Marisa Ewers made the drop down from the top tier to aid the successful promotion effort last season, and this summer has seen a number of highly-rated young internationals and more experienced, decorated heads come through the door.
There have also been off-the-field improvements over the last twelve months too, such as the arrival of Women’s Sporting Director Eniola Aluko, the move from Boldmere St. Michaels to Walsall’s Banks’ Stadium for the upcoming season and the fact that the ladies will wear the same shirt as the men’s side, with the same sponsor, for the first time in a number of years. There’s also the use of Bodymoor Heath in the last twelve months that should be noted.
Besides the on-and-off-the-field investment, the club have been moving towards a more united approach in terms of their marketing and social media as they aim to improve the support of the Aston Villa Women and increase their already strong fanbase.
This started at the start of last season, when the team photo was taken involving both squads – a small, but strong statement that put Aston Villa at the forefront in regards to equality between the sides – and something that not many other clubs do.
Since then, the club placed a highly-visible banner within Villa Park congratulating the Women’s FA Women’s Championship trophy win during the fanless resumption of the Premier League, whilst also starting to make a stronger effort to share Aston Villa Women news on the ‘main’ club account.
Exceptionally and noticeably, the Aston Villa Women were at the forefront of the new home kit’s promotional material, with Amy West, Elisha N’Dow and new signing Chloe Arthur all donning the new Cazoo-sponsored Kappa kit as the kit was revealed. There are banners across social media, fan websites like our own and billboards across the city all showcasing the Aston Villa Women.
It’s key that as Gemma Davies’ side go from strength-to-strength, so does the coverage and support of the club internally and externally. Whilst there are still going to be issues in regards to wages and things of that ilk, something that likely can’t be fixed any time soon due to the disparity between incomes between the two sides, there is obvious investment ploughed into the Women’s side of the game at Aston Villa.
Purslow did say that a club of Aston Villa’s stature should have a large level of “support and commitment behind Women’s football” and that it was something that “he intended to deliver”.
He’s certainly delivered so far, with Aston Villa Women now vying to become the dominant Women’s team in the West Midlands before potentially moving even further forward.