I should first apologise for my absence – between hectic circumstances in life and my own health issues, things have been rather manic. As a result, my ability to write has been somewhat diminished.

Over the course of the close season, I’ve been able to reflect on much ado about Villa from the new ownership, to life in the Championship and, perhaps more importantly for the site, where we go with AVL.

Ever since the site came out of nowhere in March 2011, it has been powered by the enthusiasm of many – writers and commenters alike. In recent times, perhaps because of a combination of life getting in the way and the state of the club, my own enthusiasm has weaned somewhat.

I’ve spent some time earlier today talking to Messrs Clark and Lerwill about where we go from here. On one hand there’s a great group of people who have managed to form real life friendships who I want to support, and on the other there’s the issue of simply not having the time to keep things ticking over as I’d hoped.

As I said to John Lerwill today, I’ve had a sense of guilt over the amount of time I’ve (not) had to write articles, and that much has hinged on John L writing pieces just to provide another source of conversation.

What I want to do is keep the site going, but with a change in format. From the side of content, I want to look at introducing a form of story aggregation (similar to Villa’s official “Mediawatch” section) so that there’s something to talk about. It doesn’t feel right for me that there can be weeks without a post and therefore I think something needs to be done to remedy such a situation.

This wouldn’t preclude anyone writing for the site (mainly myself and the aforementioned Johns – or anyone else who wants to) but it would freshen things up and at least give the sense that AVL is not a neglected entity – in that sense I owe it to all our readers and commenters to ensure that the site is given a chance to be a good source of Villa news.

In the short term, I’m seeking thoughts from readers on what they’d like to see and any ideas they might have. If you want to offer some thoughts, either comment below or drop me a line directly.

I hope the above feels fair as I don’t want to wind the site down, but I do want to ensure that the readers are catered for as best I can manage. It saddens me that I don’t have the time spare to write but, candidly, if I don’t spend some time now focusing on getting me better as an individual, the concern is that I may burn out again and I don’t want that to happen.

Finally, thank you all for your contribution to the site whether you write articles, comment or read – AVL has been a great success over its five year history and I hope it will continue to provide a community for those who comment.

Till next time, up the Villa!

Comments 42

  1. Life and Health has to be more important than feeding us talking points so don’t feel any guilt if you’ve had to step away and as you say JL has been keeping things going article wise although I’m sure he doesn’t intend his Villa related articles to diverge into politics, religion, social conscience and music but that is what makes AVL retain it’s family atmosphere in that we can debate, inform and disagree without any vitriol.

    I think the format could alter a bit to allow direct replies especially for the likes of me who may not be on daily and is responding to someone who posted days ago.

    I’m not so sure about the mediawatch thing, granted AVL has to stay current but doesn’t every other site do the same and I know I can go onto newsnow and take in multiple Villa news feeds on one page.

  2. DO’R: “JL has been keeping things going article wise although I’m sure he doesn’t intend his Villa related articles to diverge into politics, religion, social conscience and music”

    There have been a number of times, have there not, when there has been little to say about the Villa (while it was examining its navel, so to speak) and other matters in the world have rather taken over. 😉

    On that point, perhaps (if it is easy enough, Matt?) there could be additional pages for different topics … the most popular ‘other’topics being Food and Drink, Music, Meet Ups and perhaps Politics and Philosophy. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the Villa chat amongst the rest!

    But as Darren suggested, it would be neat to be able to reply directly to a responder.

  3. DO’R: “Delusional Geordies”

    But the fact remains they *do* have a stronger local support for their club, and that in an area where they have to compete with Sunderland and Middlesbrough … and Doncaster Rovers. 😉

  4. Matt
    Thank you for willing to maintain the site. All the best with your health.
    It’s a good site the way it is. Do what you feel right to do.
    Fan wise, Newcastle Utd is a bigger club in England. Villa probably has a bigger international fanbase.

  5. Hello Matt,
    Your health comes first mate, absolutely.
    Over the last five years we’ve had some laughs on here and when you consider how pathetic the club has been its remarkable, we’ve also been fortunate to have excellent writers who put diverse slants on the subject matter which makes it easier to respond but it doesn’t take a genius to realise that the number of posters has declined with the clubs fortunes. From a personal point of view my enthusiasm for AVFC is at a minimum, i don’t go to games or watch them on tv, its a dead parrot , i’ve attempted to finish completely with them and have several spells off the blog before the lure kicks in again due to this blog and the friends made by its existence. As you suggest the format is possibly dated and can’t survive as it stands, no answers from me but whatever happens i’ve had an enjoyable five years and corresponded with some truly great folk, if it all ends then its still been worthwhile. As the great Bob Hite would say “Don’t forget to boogie.”

  6. Hi Matt – i join the others in saying your health is the most important thing followed by happiness and these have to be the most important things to concern yourself with

    the fact that AVL is here is the main thing – its been slow on here of late but i am sure it will explode into action in the future

    one idea is to have a translation option and perhaps see if AVL could get onto the Chinese web ?

  7. I don’t doubt they have a bigger support base, match days prove it but don’t sell it as we sold 33000 season tickets compared to our 20000. That disguises the fact that we’ve done equally well in terms of percentage of the ground.

    Agree with Steamer it’s a hard sell when the team is/was so bad but there’s probably a core of twenty posters on AVL, it does need to sell itself better perhaps by not relying on a single story but move to forums but even that is already well catered for but being on Newsnow once in a while in comparison with Vital Villa being on Newsnow almost daily is probably reducing the footfall on AVL. And AVL could do with new blood so we aren’t listening to the same opinions all the time.

    I suppose it depends on what you want from it, do you want to invest the time and money in making it a leading independent Villa website or keep it going as is with minor tweaks, what about app technology even the club no longer has an official app. What about approaching Villa and offering to be the online/app forum presence for the official site, they surely don’t have the staff/inclination to maintain it themselves.

    A revamp to tie in the new structure and new history being made in the Championship is definitely worth pursuing. Like Villa it will be almost cathartic to do away with the old and start afresh.

  8. Darren,

    The point really is that the Geordies do get much more local support, and the situation at Villa should be deprecated as the city’s size is so much bigger (we are the second city!) *and* does not have much by way of local competition for top dog status.

    Permission was granted to extend Villa Park to a 50,000 capacity but it’s not been done as it was felt that the support was not there. Plus the owner (Lerner) chickened out from further investment.

  9. As an old crock with buggered up knees I know how health and happiness come first. As you know i had a hell of a time registering for this site, and had John e-mail you to get me registered. I wonder how many like myself have been reading the blogs for years but also cant seem to register. I personally just love sites that allow some banter and it doesn’t all have to be about the Virra, or even soccer for that matter, just some bloody good banter. Now for me and many North Americans, we are too stubborn to use any other browser but Firefox, maybe that’s why i had a difficult time joining in, even now i lock up on log in and have to re-send every time, but it’s worth it for me to stay connected and still keep my favorite browser. All i can say is keep up the good work as long health and motivation allow, I’d miss it all should it fold now. I had been reading the site so long it’s like i knew everyone before i eventually registered, and feel a sense of brotherhood as i too was at the cup runs in Crewe, Chester and the like, all those years ago. Even remember an afternoon in the back of paddy wagon at the Baggies when Willie Johnston curled in a corner on 8 minutes that Cumbes dropped over the line, next thing i remember was being picked up from the ground with my arm twisted up behind my back and off to the paddy wagon. That was the day i met Pete the Greek for the first time, he challenged half the West Brom Police Force to press ups, ran a hundred up with one arm, was amazing to a kid of 17 or 18 at the time.
    Anyway Matt, without your site how can us old farts reminisce the good old days.
    That’s my two cents worth and hopefully there are plenty more who feel the same.

    Cheers and thanks for the time we’ve had if you do in the end, call it a day mate.

  10. All the best Matt, just goes to show Villa really can be bad for your health 😉
    Our home support is pretty cr*p in the main and VP is never full or sold out, we have one of the lowest % of attendance compared to capacity( in the PL over the last few seasons), teams like Norwich have more ST holders( as do Albion I believe). St James’s park holds 52,339 so 33k ST is decent given they have never won a major trophy and have just been relegated. They also seek out often as do Sunderland who average over 40k per week. Our away support is excellent but again the club haven’t always requested the full amount from the host club. Under M’oN we had regular full houses but hardly any since, and next season we have closed down the trinity upper and turned the North lower into disabled area, vastly reducing our capacity next season( and beyond if not promoted). Our days at being at the top table are not only gone on the pitch, but we aren’t all that special off it either. I do hate the Geordies tho, bunch of diluded muppets, whom the media love.

  11. B62 Villa July 26, 2016 at 2:54 pm
    So with less than 2 weeks to go until we kick off at Sheff weds, the squad and in particular the starting 11 looks absolutely nowhere ready and unlikely to worry the top half of the division. Why we have been made one of the favourites by the bookies, I have no idea. We finished miles behind Norwich and Newcastle last season both of whom have strengthened( Norwich look like they are buying McCormack) whilst we have bought 2 potentially good players unproven at this levelled a central defender who looks good to start. This isn’t so much an overhaul as a bit of tinkering, which would be fine if what we had were good enough and we had done well to keep them, but frankly we have the opposite . Richards maybe leaving for £5m ( although doubtful)and Guzan on a free, a couple more should be on the way out also( not enough of them for me), whilst we are being linked with s**te like Craig bluenose c**t Gardner ( his brother is better and deserves a chance) and seem to be missing out on the likes of McCormack and Kodija despite have f**k all up front bar Ayew( who may still leave). We are overloaded with bang average dross in every position, especially midfield where we are crying out for quality and creativity. Adama is lame and I doubt will play this season( I heard he is another 12 months away from full fitness as he has spent all his time pumping iron and bodybuilding rather than getting match fit, over the years and is completely the wrong body shape for a footballer, he also tires after 20-30mins) meaning we also lack width. I get we may need a clear out but a striker, a FB and some creativity is a must or we can write this season off and will be also rans , by the time the window closes we could be 10-15 pts off contention, we aren’t good enough to give that sort of head start. We have to start well and kick on or we could see a repeat of last season, where it went from bad to worse on a continual downwards spiral. To add salt into the wounds it seems like Dalian Wanda are buying Albion having looked at us, because RL is a s**te business man. Wolves also have a new Chinese owner with considerable more £££££ than us, so we need to get a move on or end up like the vermin. Dr T and Wyness keep making bold statements regarding the likes of Ayew, Amavi and now Idressa Gana due to Everton sniffing around,

  12. The positives from pre season are fitness, RDM has had a chance to see first hand what he has to work with, New manager/coaches can I still ideas and lay the law down, and due to the opposition we have scored a fair few and are unbeaten.
    Negatives, we have played opposition far far below the standard we will face week in week out, I don’t want this to paper over the cracks in respect of just how much work their is to do with such an awful squad in so little time. It was only a couple of months ago many bookies and pundits had us down for a double relegation. Lots of change off the pitch but not much on it

  13. b62

    I know what your saying man but something gives me great trust in the new owners and management team. Could be wrong but come the end of the transfer window I think we will be ok. 30 days till it shuts.

    We all wont the rotten apples out fast but its not easy to shift the buggers.

  14. B62,

    Yes, of course the nature of the opposition has to bring us back to earth, and this Saturday’s match vs. Boro will be far more indicative of how good we are.

    But, nevertheless, pre-seasons in the previous last few years have also been mainly against lower opposition and yet we did not do so well. This year looks a tad brighter at least. We have to be +ve about something, surely?! 😉

  15. guzan will be going along with gana. happy to take the 7mill for him. overloaded with his type of midfielder.

    Richards and lescott next! wonder if gabby will stay….not featured at all yet.

    Adama 2 weeks away from fitness.

  16. Afternoon Ladies and Gents..

    Regarding the way the summer is shaping up.. i did think we would have a couple more in by now.. signings will come IMO..

    A position a lot of people are ignoring is Central Mid.. i think we def need a player in.. i like Jordan Mutch from the Palace.. played at this level two.. him and Tshibola would make a good pairing and give us a solid middle..

    The defence is actually looking solid.. the keeper looks a find and Elphick a communicator..

    We have been linked with Sebastian Haller.. would love this one to happen.. would score a shed load in the Championship..

    A last word about the Doctor being on Twitter.. i dont think it is the wisest move.. bit like when the General was on the blogs.. all well and good to start with but there will come a time the abuse will start and he will have to leave sharpish..

  17. Good afternoon everyone,

    As a one-time frequent contributor to the site I would like to stress that I still regularly check in to read articles and still hold just as much value in the content of the site as I ever have. My time is far more restricted than it once was, which to some extent explains my absence from the boards, but in the main part it is due to a general malaise around the club which has sapped much of my enthusiasm, I’m sad to say.

    Matt, I don’t think anyone could offer you anything but thanks and well wishes for your health, now and in the future. This is unquestionably the most important thing to think about, and we’ll all find our place if we need to. The community which this site has spawned has been fantastic, and I think you and your co-writers have created something worth continuing, but I agree that the gaps between posts has slowed the momentum of the page, although the true strength of this site has never been quantity, it has always been about the quality.

    Whatever is decided, I wish it well, but I just felt like it was important to let everyone know that the value is still there, even from the view of someone who no longer actively contributes to the site.

    In terms of the current setup, it looks like progress to some extent. I like that Xia communicates more openly, although I’d like it if he reined it in a little! Squad-wise, we’re okay, but the scars of last year (and beyond) are likely to remain on show, barring some further change. I don’t see us being close to automatic promotion at present, but I do have faith that there’s talent in the ranks, and a few wins could quickly change my views on our chances for promotion…

    Or we could revert to type and loiter in the bottom 5!

  18. Lionheart: “A last word about the Doctor being on Twitter.. i dont think it is the wisest move.. bit like when the General was on the blogs.. all well and good to start with but there will come a time the abuse will start and he will have to leave sharpish..”

    But don’t let us ignore the fact hat Dr. Tonix is the real deal – the narrative is coming directly from the top and not through PR, which is what the General was effectively doing. And not doing it that well at that i.m.o.

  19. Pogpas agent gets 25m for his troubles, lunacy as is the 92m fee for someone who doesn’t make the top 3000 players iv’e seen over the years, obscene doesn’t come close.

  20. Nice to see Lionheart and Darran again two good Villans. Read Lionheart on TVB, few arguments lately mate, some right narky so and so’s.

  21. Steamer,

    On Gueye, I’m not unhappy he appears to be off. Too many free kicks given by him around the penalty area for my liking. If he could correct the fouling habit then he’d be good, no doubt.

    If he’s off, can we have GB back please?! He might do well finishing his career in the Championship.

  22. Going completely off track (there’s a pun here I think!) have y’all heard of Amazon trialing deliveries by drone? I thought it would never get off the ground (sorry!) but apparently it’ been given the green light.

    Now, supposing that’s a success and every other delivery (by all on-line companies) now comes over by drone…

    …birds beware!

  23. Knocking down Smallbrook Ringway now, why don;t they knock down some really ugly buildings like the Library, New Street Station and Bullring.

  24. Seems to me that Wolves are inviting trouble by signing Mendes’ Benfica reserves over Jackets head, the owner obviously knows nothing about footy, similar to when Herbert was picking the Villa team and signing the players.
    Olbyon too, why would Wanda want to buy a manky little outfit like Sandwell, crepe ground, crepe team, no support, they may use them as a feeder for Atletico but they’ll never be number one in that roster.
    I think that Dr X has to make a financial statement with a marquee signing, too many shadows at the moment and its crucial that we make a determined promotion bid this season or he’ll lose the faith of the fans like Lerner did.

  25. Hello old friends, one and all!

    To our dear illustrious leader, Mr. Turvey: may your health get better! Prayers and best wishes from over here on this side of the Pond for your sustained improvement.

    Echoing many of you, I also must confess that the last five years’ continual debasement has well-nigh crushed my enthusiasm for all things Villa. That being said, I am much more enthusiastic with a new owner, new board, new back staff, new gaffer, and some new players in (as well as some dreadful oldies gladly dismissed!). Also, I mentioned some months ago when it became obvious that we were going to be relegated, the experience of playing in a new division — albeit a lower one — is a new adventure for me; I actually look forward to the matches being played on different nights, and be in different venues, than I’ve ever seen before.

    I hope this site continues, but I understand that it, like all things, must someday come to an end. In the meantime I certainly like the specific “reply to a post”option; Matt, I think your proposal about keeping the pages updated by having it be a sort of aggregation site is a thoroughly excellent idea.

    Finally, even though I haven’t posted here nearly as much as many of you, I have so very much enjoyed getting to know all of you –especially your famously droll British humor (witness all the Steamers!).

  26. Steamer
    “I think that Dr X has to make a financial statement with a marquee signing, too many shadows at the moment and its crucial that we make a determined promotion bid this season or he’ll lose the faith of the fans like Lerner did.”
    Many of us surely agree. He has the funds, so why not back himself?

  27. If the High court ruling goes against Jezza this afternoon then its the end for the Labour Party, who is actually going to vote for Oily Smith in a General Election ? Destroyed by their own treacherous MP’s, Kier Hardie must be turning in his grave.

  28. Hi all,

    Thank you for you comments and kind words – they are most certainly appreciated.

    For me, the reason I wanted to float thoughts out to the wider audience is because I’d be loathe to let the site disappear. Ultimately, it has achieved what it set out to be – a community first and foremost, and one that has created many real world friendships for me and many others.

    I obviously want AVL to continue on in some format. Ultimately who I need to please are the reader and those that comment – especially since there has been a limited number of people writing in recent times and, as John has mentioned, perhaps a paucity of things to actually write about. I know from my own experiences that years of disappointing football and a lack of leadership has sucked the enjoyment out of football for me, or rather my enjoyment of watching Villa.

    That, in short, is why I decided to stop writing for the Express & Star. It wasn’t that I don’t love this club – I’m a fifth generation fan – but that when I was writing up to three times a week about it, I had little that I could then write for my own site which, to be candid, seemed a little back-to-front.

    My hope is that having ejected my other writing commitments, and with an upturn in fortunes, there may well be more to write about and that I can write about Villa for AVL when I do have the opportunity to put something out. If the Mediawatch option isn’t what floats people’s boats then I’ll leave it with the way things are – my only concern was with a site that wasn’t getting the attention it should, then I didn’t want to neglect the readers.

    I’d like to thank you all – whether you’ve been here from day one or only recently – as ultimately the success of this site relies heavily on you all as a community.

    PS re: the alternate topics idea, I can implement a forum if this will help for the non-Villa stuff – I’ll create a prototype at some point soon and we can see how that works for those who are interested.


  29. Matt – make your health your primary concern mate; the site will re-energise once the season gets started.
    Since I emigrated I miss the pre-match banter In the Aston Social and my prime seat on the front row of the Upper Holte; I have managed to watch all the Villa games on an on-demand sports program that covers every sport imagined. However, the opportunity to watch Championship football is non-existent so I will be forced to watch the League Show with Kelly Cates.
    The site does allow me to have some communication with other Villa fans and my reason for not visiting more frequently is probably the same as some other absentees.
    With the gap between new posts the problem of paging down through a week’s worth of comments has tended to dull my interest; that’s not complaining about the people who did post through the close season and when I did go on I enjoyed the variety.
    As I said at first Matt, the site will pick up again once the actual season kicks off. Keep healthy mate. UTV.

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