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Aston Villa - A True Legend!

April 25th, 2007 by admin
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Our very own Aston Villa legend Ian Taylor will finally hang up his boots on Friday ending a superb 15 year career. 

In his final game when Northampton Town entertain Huddersfield Town, the 38 year old veteran will get the send off he deserves. What a pity Villa couldnt of gave him a proper testimonial when he was released on a free transfer in 2003. At least a number of fans acknowledged this in a special testimonial evening!

Taylor made around 300 appearances over nine seasons for the Villa. During his time, he won the League Cup in 1996 and appeared in the last FA Cup Final at the old Wembley Stadium in a single goal defeat to Chelsea

It is anticipated that a large contingent of Villa supporters will be in attendance. So get yourselves down there and show your appreciation to one of our own. For tickets call the Sixfields Box Office on 0870 822 1966

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Aston Villa FC -

April 25th, 2007 by admin
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Our very own Aston Villa legend Ian Taylor will finally hang up his boots on Friday ending a superb 15 year career.

In his final game when Northampton Town entertain Huddersfield Town, the 38 year old veteran will get the send off he deserves. What a pity Villa couldnt of gave him a proper testimonial when he was released on a free transfer in 2003. At least a number of fans acknowledged this in a special testimonial evening!

Taylor made over 250 appearances scoring 43 goals for the Villa. During his time, he won the League Cup in 1996 and appeared in the last FA Cup Final at the old Wembley Stadium in a single goal defeat to Chelsea.

It is anticipated that a large contingent of Villa supporters will be in attendance. So get yourselves down there and show your appreciation. For tickets call the Sixfields Box Office on 0870 822 1966

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Aston Villa FC - Legend!

April 25th, 2007 by admin
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Our very own Aston Villa legend Ian Taylor will finally hang up his boots on Friday ending a superb 15 year career.

In his final game when Northampton Town entertain Huddersfield Town, the 38 year old veteran will get the send off he deserves. What a pity Villa couldnt of gave him a proper testimonial when he was released on a free transfer in 2003. At least a number of fans acknowledged this in a special testimonial evening!

Taylor made over 250 appearances scoring 43 goals for the Villa. During his time, he won the League Cup in 1996 and appeared in the last FA Cup Final at the old Wembley Stadium in a single goal defeat to Chelsea.

It is anticipated that a large contingent of Villa supporters will be in attendance. So get yourselves down there and show your appreciation. For tickets call the Sixfields Box Office on 0870 822 1966

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Birmingham City FC - Under Pressure

April 12th, 2007 by Kym Smith
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Now that Blues have effectively applied the 12-bore shotgun to their feet with their two losses over Easter weekend, the pressure is truly on.

 

Not only is automatic promotion out of their own hands, they have to answer an FA charge of failing to control their players’ discipline following the fracas at Oakwell after the final whistle on Monday.

 

A bout of “handbags” rapidly turned into a mass brawl involving players and officials from both sides.  Although it appeared that few punches were thrown, it was an embarrassing end to an extremely disappointing game.

 

As far as disciplinary issues go, this has been an exceptionally poor season for Birmingham.  Neil Danns has already received a three-match ban for this incident and it will be interesting to see whether any further penalties are added when the FA have consulted the referee’s report and viewed the video evidence.

 

Steve Bruce has just received a fine for abusing an FA official after the Plymouth game.  Although it’s easy to see why he was exasperated as player confidentiality seemed to have been breached, his actions were not appropriate and he has paid the price, albeit in pocket money terms considering his earnings.

 

Add to that the “no pitch” debacle in January which has yet to be resolved and the picture is not good. A final decision from the FA on the sanctions to be applied for this incident is expected towards the end of April.

 

On the pitch, for a team in a commanding position in the league, Blues’ disciplinary record is nothing short of shocking.  During the course of the 2006-1007 season they have amassed 64 yellow cards and 8 reds.  The tally of sending-offs is the second highest, and the card total is fifth overall.

 

Taking “professional fouls” out of that equation (which catch up with most defenders during their course of their career), some of the red cards have been downright stupid; Bendtner’s and Damien Johnson’s come to mind immediately.

 

Overall this poor record has to point towards a lack of control and assertion from the top, which is disturbing when added to the other issues fans have been talking about for months.

 

It has to be hoped now that Blues’ season doesn’t spontaneously combust in their last few games, although as Derby’s Billy Davies has already pointed out, promotion is for them to win and Birmingham to lose.

 

If they are to avoid the stress and possible heartbreak of the playoffs, they have to hope that Derby suffer a couple of losses during their run-in, as Sunderland look like an unstoppable train on their way to the top flight.

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Three into two wont go

April 5th, 2007 by Kym Smith
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If the FA hadn’t invented the playoff system in its current format at the beginning of the 1990s, then by now Birmingham City fans might be feeling they can sit back, relax and maybe even open the odd beer or two to celebrate.

 

The playoff system was a familiar haunt for Blues, as they made a number of heartbreaking trips through the process before finally emerging triumphant against Norwich in May 2002.  Getting promoted through the playoffs is an amazing experience; tripping up at the last hurdle is not and the agony is familiar.

 

In the Championship table as it stands, three teams have now pulled away from the rest of the pack.  By the end of May 6th, the supporters of two of them will be ecstatic and the third will probably be feeling utterly deflated.

 

Although Birmingham still have a game in hand over Derby and Sunderland, even with those three points in the bag it doesn’t completely guarantee that they are home and dry.  They would be top, but with the narrowest of margins.  December’s lead is a distant memory, but in the last few weeks Birmingham seem to have pulled their socks up in time to have a fighting chance at automatic promotion.

 

At least they are amongst the teams that have broken away; there is a five-point cushion between third and fourth place as Preston slipped up in their game in hand against QPR earlier in the week.

 

If Blues can take six points from Burnley and Barnsley (taking into consideration their poorer form against lower-table opposition this season) then their position will be more secure, particularly if Derby or Sunderland don’t win both their games over the weekend.

 

This is the most nail biting part of the season for every team that is not safe in mid-table; the run-in. 

 

On paper, Derby’s final six games look fairly straightforward; three home and three away, all against teams in the lower half of the table.  However, two of the home games involve teams who are fighting relegation (Luton and Leeds) and at this time of year fixtures of this type can’t be counted on as an easy three points.

 

They also have to play unpredictable Ipswich and “under new management” Leicester and Coventry.  It’s very likely that Blues fans will be looking for Geoff Horsfield to do them a favour this weekend for old times’ sake.

 

Sunderland’s run-in includes a meeting with Luton, although by the last game of the season they may have little to play for other than pride.  One of the Black Cat’s advantages lies in them having four home games left out of their last six. 

 

Their form is nothing short of frightening; unbeaten in the league in 2007, their last loss was on the 30th December to Preston, who incidentally also knocked them out of the FA Cup less than 10 days later.  It’s hard to see them losing their momentum now and it’s not inconceivable that their unbeaten run could extend to the end of the season.

 

Of their remaining games, the teams most likely to cause them a problem are Wolves, who visit the Stadium of Light on the 7th April and must be desperate to recover from the thrashing handed out to them by Southampton last weekend, and Colchester, who visit later in the month and have proved to be tough opponents all season.  There is also an away trip to free-scoring Southampton, who must be buoyant after their recent exploits at the Molineux. 

 

Of the top three teams, Birmingham’s is probably the trickiest run-in; like Sunderland, they also have to meet Southampton, who will be hoping for a season double. Wolves will be looking to take three points on the 22nd April, but the crunch games are likely to be the long-awaited visit to the Walker Stadium and the last day trip to Preston.

 

There will be an uncommonly large number of hearts in mouths if Blues have to go to Deepdale needing a win to stay in one of the automatic promotion spots.

 

If they win their game in hand and at least equal the results that Derby and Sunderland turn out, then they are the proud winners of a slice of the biggest football league pie in existence.

 

If they don’t beat Leicester, or don’t maintain the same form as their near rivals, then they finish third in line and are in receipt of the biggest kick in the proverbials available in the Football League. The effect on morale must be horrific and it takes effort on a gargantuan scale to pull a team out of the third place morass into playoff winners.

 

It’s a well-known phenomenon that the team finishing third is usually not the team that goes up through the playoffs.  This makes the whole process seem fundamentally unfair, as a team who has performed worse throughout a season of 46 games can snatch the prize away at the last minute.

 

The only sop that could be taken from third place from Birmingham’s point of view is their superior performance against near rivals in the league so far this year, which might prove to be their salvation – or then again, it might not.

 

This year the entire playoff process could be further complicated by the fact that there could be as many as three local teams involved if Birmingham slip to third place.  At the time of writing, Wolves and West Brom are in the running to stay within the top six, which could guarantee a clutch of local derbies, a fixture nightmare and at least one West Midlands team paying a visit to Wembley at the end of May.

 

Although the cup final experience is fantastic for the winning team, some feel that the whole promotion process should be based on form and results for the teams in first, second and third place, not two plus one of the four that happen to scramble themselves into a playoff slot.

 

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Cole to Birmingham?

March 21st, 2007 by Kym Smith
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Following speculation in this mornings press, it has just been announced that Birmingham City are looking to tie up a loan deal for Portsmouths Andy Cole before the loan window closes.

Cole, the all-time second highest scorer in the Premiership, has slipped down the pecking order at Portsmouth and is obviously looking for some first-team football.  At 36, he is at the upper end of the age spectrum for professional footballers but is still fit.

Steve Bruce appears to be looking to add a hint of experience to his young squad to aid them in their final push for promotion.

The addition of yet another striker to Birminghams large squad has caused more than a few raised eyebrows, as the average fan had been expecting a defender or maybe a midfield player to be added.

However, goals have been difficult to come by since the New Year; from a free-scoring period during November and December, Birmingham are now struggling to score more than one a game and are squandering chances.

The deal is expected to be concluded when loose ends have been tied up.

Steve Bruce has experience of playing in the same squad as Cole as they were at Manchester United together.  His comments from St Andrews this lunchtime show great respect for the player and a hope that his arrival will give Blues the boost they need for their run-in.

 

Discuss this article in the forums: www.vbbfootball.com/forum

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Birmingham City FC - Blues - Baggies Preview

March 16th, 2007 by Kym Smith
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The latest Midlands derby in the Championship promises to be a tense affair on Sunday morning.

Although still top of the league, Birmingham City are hanging on only by goal difference, whereas West Bromwich Albion have suffered three consecutive defeats and have slipped to sixth place.

Both teams lost midweek; Birmingham are reporting players carrying viral illnesses; Bendtner and Vine were both substituted on Tuesday night after not being fit to continue in the game.

West Broms captain Curtis Davies has sustained a broken bone in his foot and is out for the rest of the season, while substitute Albrechtsen managed only three minutes on the pitch before being red-carded for a professional foul and serves a suspension on Sunday.

Although West Broms woes are mostly in the defensive department, Birmingham are in something of a goal drought and have failed to score more than one per game since the beginning of 2007.  They sport one of the better defensive records in the division, having conceded only one goal in six hours of play, but McSheffrey is suspended and Nicklas Bendtner has yet to show the brilliance of the first half of the season.

D J Campbell was surprisingly left out of the squad against Norwich but is likely to feature on Sunday morning.  The man with the gift for being in the right place at the right time could well be a key to Birmingham achieving a result from this game.

Other teams at the top of the Championship are having a similarly difficult time at the moment, with only Preston securing a win in their last outing.

This weekends fixtures promise little of a let up for most of the top eight teams; Southampton have already lost to Colchester, Derby have a difficult fixture against Cardiff awaiting and Wolves face a tricky encounter away at Sheffield Wednesday.

Only Sunderland have a game against a lower-half side, but Hull are in a resurgent period since the acquisition of Ray Parlour and have pulled off some surprising results in the last few weeks.

Form is becoming an issue for all the clubs near the top of the table. Birmingham are better against the teams around them but have slipped up appallingly against those in the bottom eight. West Brom, on the other hand, have a less than enviable record against their fellow promotion contenders.  A draw would be less harmful to Birmingham than West Brom, who will have to go for the win to keep up pressure on an automatic promotion spot. 

To achieve their goal of a return at the first attempt, Birmingham must now hold their nerve in the face of a chasing pack that is promising to give one of the most exciting finishes to this league for years.

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Aston Villa FC - The General may need counselling after this encounter!

March 15th, 2007 by admin
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By Colin McGurn

VBB was again extremely fortunate to be invited to the latest supporter’s consultation group meeting, due to the lack of a suitable candidate to attend and after no volunteers from our forum members, VBB sent intrepid (or is that miserable) Moderator Colin (Mad Dog) McGurn to represent the site, here is his account of the evening.

Things did not start well, upon arriving at the North Stand banqueting suite and announcing I was there for the meeting I was greeted with blank expressions from the man and woman on the reception desk, bizarrely they believed my story and just let me wander unattended around the North Stand until I bumped into a short elderly American Gentleman with a wide smile and a vice like handshake! MD met General Krulak!

I’m not sure who was more in awe of the other, I would like to say General K was, but truth be told you could not fail to be impressed by his enthusiasm, his friendliness and the obvious passion he has for the club, he welcomed me and ushered me to the bar…it would have been rude to say no to the man!

The meeting took a slightly more informal approach to the previous meetings, a larger number of people from various websites and supporters groups attended and it had been described as a “meet and greet” on the invitation, I got chatting to a representative from VillaTalk while waiting for proceedings to start, and amazingly I was polite to him!

General Krulak welcomed everyone, and apologized for Randy’s no show (he had planned to pop in and say hello), but a rather unpleasant sounding back problem had left him laid up in London after his flight and he had been unable to attend the game.

The General gave a short speech rallying the troops and talking of his and Randy’s vision for Aston Villa, they are determined to bring back the clubs former glories and are committed to improving facilities at Villa Park.

One particular subject the General touched upon was the forthcoming 25th anniversary (God I feel old!) of Villas European Cup win, the club intend to mark the occasion in a big way, the opening of Bodymoor heath is planned to coincide with celebrations and the winning 82 team will be involved in the ceremony to officially open the new facilities, General K also told us that season ticket holders are likely to be invited to this celebration, (amongst others). Many celebrations will involve supporter participation but he stressed fans would have to be quick off the mark to be part of them, (keep your eyes on the Official website for news).

General K then handed over to new CEO Richard Fitzgerald.

Our new CEO explained his background in Sports marketing and also in the communications industry, interestingly he mentioned that he had been in the running for the CEO job 3 years ago and after thinking he had got the job he found the position filled by Bruce Langham, its fair to say that both he and the General raised an eyebrow or two at the decision (and a few others) of the previous Chairman throughout the meeting, but Richard stated that after this snub it was an ambition of his to get the job at some point in the future.

Richard then talked about places where Villa were looking to expand, one thing mentioned was the global TV market with the club looking to promote Villa around Europe the US and Asia, he talked about the opportunities available and the fact that these have not been pursued in the past, and that this was something the new regime hoped to rectify.

It was stated that season ticket prices will reduce next season, which is news I’m sure everyone will welcome. The club currently has an average gate of 36k, they hope this will rise to 39k next season and they see this as an achievable target and a season on season increase to 42k the following year, if this is achieved then stadium expansion could follow.

The club is looking to reduce the amount of sponsors it has, making people involved pay a premium for the more “exclusive rights”.

Coupled with this Im sure at least one of our number will be very pleased to know the club will be introducing those new fangled video advertising hoardings next season.

Richard talked about the Nike deal and that Villa would be looking for similar high profile and lucrative deals for shirt sponsors, the club are contractually bound to 32RED.COM right now but the next deal will hopefully show where the club is heading and wants to be.

He talked of improving the Villa “matchday experience”, one example of this is that the clubs have obtained new alcohol licenses so that bars can open AFTER games, more emphasis is to be placed on keeping fans in the ground post match to eat/drink rather than usher them off the premises as soon as possible.

Re-branding was mentioned. A new club crest is to be unveiled in April (he intimated it will include the star) and as a result Villa Park will undergo “re-branding” to ensure that all areas of the ground feature this new crest , replacing out of date logos and as stated previously that plastic signs on stands will go.

There will be a pre-season friendly at VP during close season and there is possibility that ST holders will get free admission.

The floor was then opened for questions from the attendees.

The first question asked about North Stand seating, from next season away fans will be rehoused in the Doug Ellis Stand, and the North Stand lower seating will become an area for Villa fans, it was asked if improvements will be made to this area both in terms of the seating and in terms of facilities.

This area will be classed as a family area from next season and will possibly have the cheapest seating available at Villa Park, the club acknowledged that facilities there are not the best and will be looking to improve them in the summer.
Anyone thinking of sitting in this area should be aware that as a family area there will be no alcohol served there.

Season tickets and ticketing in general was discussed, the subject of freebies and reductions that have eroded the value of season tickets was mentioned and the club acknowledged that there is a fine line between attracting fans and alienating existing fans.

One thing mentioned was that with the introduction of swipe cards, it will be easier for the club to administer an easy payment scheme and it was suggested that this could be over 8 months, it was also stated that the administration fee of £50 for the payment scheme that existed this season would be reduced by half for next season.

Allocations of tickets for away games was discussed, the club is keen to take as many tickets as possible for games, but needs to be sure that any tickets taken on a “no return” basis are sold, the club is looking to expand the away fan scheme beyond the 1000 it currently stands at and they acknowledge that Villas away support has been superb.

I’m sure there was a lot more discussed than this, but my failure to bring a notebook means I may have missed a few points.

The club is committed to bringing success to Villa Park, the people involved with the club are committed to making that success happen, it was a privilege to attend tonight’s meeting and to be able to contribute in some small way to taking the club forward.

Again a huge thank you to the General and the club for our invite, to Lee Preece for organising, and especially to Nicola Keye for putting up with my moaning.

Lee mentioned before the meeting that the two previous meetings had ended with the team losing on the night; unfortunately we had a very unwanted hat trick on that front.

I left the ground tonight feeling that off the field we have everything in place to be a success, now it’s down to Martin and the team to deliver on the pitch, they will never have a better chance with the superb back room team we have.

The futures bright, the futures Claret and Blue.

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Aston Villa FC - Transfer Rumours

March 12th, 2007 by admin
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Arouna Kone
From the News of the World. Martin ONeill is lining up a summer bid for PSV Eindhoven frontman Arouna Kone.
Kone has scored 12 goals in 35 appearances for the Dutch side this season and ONeill looks set to make a bid in the region of £8 million for the big attacker as a replacement for Chris Sutton, who is set to part company with the midlands giants this summer. The Villa boss is hoping to pair the big Ivory Coast striker with John Carew at Villa Park in what would be a formidable front line.

Steve Sidwell
According to local reports, the Reading press have tipped Villa and Everton to be the frontrunners in securing the signature of Reading midfielder Steve Sidwell.
Man City, Boro, Rangers and Celtic have all been linked with the player, and Chelsea could also make an offer. But sources close to the player say hes not interested in a move north and although Reading have offered £25K per week to keep him at the club, he knows he can better that elsewhere.

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Aston Villa FC - SCG Your Questions Answered

March 8th, 2007 by admin
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Fifteen issues were raised at the inaugural meeting of the Supporters Consultation Group which was attended by our VBB representitive Ads, and here are the answers from various department heads.

1. What can the club do to address the problems of parking?
We recognise that parking is an important issue for supporters and we have recently established a Transport Group, tasked with examining all means of access to Villa Park on match days and establishing an updated transport plan for the club. This will include discussions with all the transport agencies and consideration of schemes such as park and ride. A pre-cursor to all our considerations is a better understanding of supporters current means of accessing Villa Park and we recently conducted a survey of supporters. Despite the recent sale of the Serpentine site, supporters will continue to have access to a minimum of 550 car park spaces on this site and this number is expected to rise to 800 when development of the site is completed.
MARION STRINGER Company Secretary

 

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