By Phil Jennings
VILLA have effectively banned fans from collecting autographs and taking selfies at their Bodymoor Heath training ground.
The club says there will be an increase in construction traffic for the HS2 high speed rail link which is due to pass close by.
Villa have issued a statement on their official website informing fans they can no longer be admitted to Bodymoor Heath.
It reads: “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.
“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.”