Aston Villa fans react to club statement as transfer target is nowhere to be seen
Aston Villa have announced that fans will no longer be allowed to wait for autographs and selfies at Bodymoor Heath.
It follows safety concerns about increased traffic around the training ground site because of the HS2 project.
Villa issued this statement explaining the decision:
“Aston Villa would like to advise supporters that we are making important changes to supporter access arrangements at the club’s Bodymoor Heath Training Ground.
“Following a full safety review, we can confirm that entrance to the training ground will no longer be available for fans.
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“The club recently trialled new supporter access arrangements limiting the number of fans who can access Bodymoor Heath to 25 at any particular time.
“This followed an initial assessment which raised safety concerns about the number of people both within the training ground and the environs around Bodymoor Heath Road.
“Traffic flow numbers – especially of Heavy Goods Vehicles into and out of the facility – have risen markedly in the last year and are expected to increase substantially this season and for the foreseeable future as the HS2 construction project in the current training ground becomes fully operational.
“Therefore the club has been advised that it would be inappropriate to maintain the current access arrangements, and furthermore, no access to Bodymoor should be made available to the general public with immediate effect.
“Supporters are also advised that parking in the private lane leading up to the training ground will also not be permitted following the same safety advice.
“The current matchday opportunities for supporters to collect autographs and take pictures with players as they arrive in the players’ car park will remain for each home game and we are also working on proposals to hold an open training session at Villa Park this season.
“The club would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank supporters in advance for their understanding.”
Here’s what supporters on social media have said about the decision:
@hotwheels_1978: If it’s not safe it’s not safe…
@Beno1917: I think it’s understandable but sad really. My lad always loved to call into Bodymoor Heath & meet the players. It’s good for young fans to meet their heroes & it’s much more hectic at Villa Park on a match day. Here’s my boy a few years back meeting the future club captain…
@D19767: Just another way players are further away from fans. Im sure the club could have found a corner of BMH if they really wanted
Craig Heath: Good move, we’ve been lucky to have been able to do it really, training day at Villa Park would be nice during the school holidays
@Kkasir23: It’s about keeping the children safe – no-one can argue with that.
@villalouie: There is already heavy construction traffic around that area and likely to get worse so makes sense.
@CraigTayla: Villa fans banned from the training ground. This goes against the whole inclusive ethos villa should be all about
Andy Powers: It is a good thing & having more open training days at villa park will go down well with all the villa fans as they will get to meet the players in a very safe place & happy times ahead
@AVFC_Scott: I think it’s fair that as soon as a player gets in their car they have finished work and shouldn’t have to sign anything.
Villa strike target Neal Maupay was conspicuous by his absence again as Brentford continued their pre-season friendlies without him.
The Frenchman is at the centre of intense speculation this summer, with both Villa and Sheffield United vying for his signature.
Maupay returned to training earlier this week after being sent home from their pre-season tour of Austria in order to clear his head.
His return had led some Bees fans to believe they have a chance of keeping their top scorer, who plundered 25 goals for the Championship side last season.
But despite protestations from team-mate Pontus Jansson, the former Saint Etienne forward was nowhere to be seen as the Bees drew 2-2 with Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park yesterday.
Jansson had told Maupay that he hopes the striker will stay at Griffin Park, with the club, in his opinion, building something special in West London.
Villa have been consistently linked with Maupay, who was brought to English football by Dean Smith when he was in charge of Brentford.
Frank’s team are believed to be looking for nearly £20m for Maupay, with fellow Premier League team Brighton also believed to be interested.
Henri Lansbury has been tipped to make up for lost time by finally achieving his potential in claret and blue.
Injuries and inconsistencies have hampered Lansbury’s Villa career since he arrived from Nottingham Forest in January 2017.
But former Villa striker Darren Bent, who now works as a pundit, reckons the former Arsenal academy midfielder can still come good.
Speaking to Football Insider he said: “I’m sure he’s going to be kicking and fighting and working really hard to make sure he does that. I don’t think he’s got much Premier League experience and if you’re an aspiring footballer, there’s no point racking up 100s and 100s of caps in the Championship.
“He’s going to be desperate to get in the Villa side. He’s got the ability, we’ve seen it over the years for Nottingham Forest and Villa, he’s got the ability to sustain it.
“It’s just about getting that opportunity, showing in pre-season, impressing Dean Smith and trying to stay in there.”
Lansbury scored in Villa’s 3-0 victory over Minnesota United.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a highly impressive spell on-loan with the Villans, which culminated in the play-off victory at Wembley over Derby County in May.
Dean Smith had remained hopeful that the United academy graduate would return to B6 this season as his newly promoted squad make the step back up to the top flight.
Hopes were further increased when United launched a world record £85m bid for Leicester City defender Harry Maguire. But Solskjaer was determined to give Tuanzebe a fair crack of the whip in pre-season and he has seemingly done enough to secure an Old Trafford future.
Tuanzebe was left out of United’s victory over Leeds last week, but the Norweigan has explained that absence was due to the fact they are confident in his ability against Championship players, instead wanting to see him against elite competition.
The United boss has now gone as far to say the former Villa loanee is ‘the future of the club’.
“He’s got a future at Man United yes, of course he has,” Solskjaer said. “Today was a test for him playing against different opposition, we know he can play at that level, that’s why he didn’t play against Leeds and now he’s shown today he’s very capable of playing at this level. Axel’s gonna be the future of this club.”