In August, an SCG meeting was held at Villa Park, and the Q and As are reported via this link.
The matter was reported on Jonathan Fear's Vital Villa site via this link. But the first response to this post on the Vital Villa site, by 'voiceoftheholte', really did make me think hard... (I have included only the main issue of the response and also have broken it up into chunks, for readability), and caused me to come to a conclusion that has surprised myself:
"... I understand the issue on the North Stand redevelopment as we cannot fill the ground we have, because there are too many fickle fans/part timers/glory hunters etc. ... The question was asked on transport but the club has a fundamental problem that will not be overcome whilst the club is based in Aston.
"Due to cultural changes, the ground is in a deprived part of Birmingham that is home to a 90% immigrant population. This social group have no affinity with the football club within whose shadows they live. Villa are not alone with this problem. Newcastle, Bluescouse, Redscouse etc are fortunate to have locations that have not been affected by population change over the years. So regardless of transport, Villa Park will remain a matchday venue only.
"The location and lack of supporters that live within the shadows of Villa Park will mean that youth/reserve games will struggle to attract support. The restaurants are underused and the Holte Pub can not open except on matchdays. The mainly muslim population have no need for pubs in the area. All the supporter consultation groups, whilst occasionally coming up with an idea, will never overcome most of the problems facing many football clubs in the future and are akin to moving the deckchairs on the Titanic.
"Flatten Villa Park, sell the land for development and move to the area now home to the Aston Science Park on the east side of the City Centre, next to the ThinkTank and within walking distance of the 3 Main train stations in Brum, the Metro service and every bus route into Brum. Make it the heart of the City or all the fan initiatives in the world are pointless. Big men and big leaders make big decisions. Lets forget ticking boxes and do something fundamental for the long term health of our great club.
"Villa Park worked up to 40 years ago. It doesn't anymore. Fortune favours the brave."
Phew!! 'voiceoftheholte' (if he is!) certainly packs a powerful emotional punch. Until now I had never seriously thought that Aston Villa FC should move from where it is. There is so much history tied up with the area on which the ground is located, and the club's own lengthy and deep history there, that I previously could not reconcile with the thought of the home of Aston Villa being elsewhere. But his arguments are pointed and caused me to address this issue for myself.
I have to say that I now agree that something fundamentally requires to be done. And I also think that his proposal (the move to an adjacent point to the ThinkTank) has merit. But would the city government support that location?
It's hard to think of another location that would be more appropriate, to my mind. I definitely would not be happy for the club to move to a green-field site outside the city. The idea of utilising rail transport seems far more appealing..