Express & Star

Big boost for Walsall as Aston Villa hand them friendly cash

Walsall have received a welcome financial boost thanks to a gesture of goodwill from Villa – while the Saddlers are working hard to find a ‘proven goalscorer’.


New Walsall co-chairman Ben Boycott, fellow co-chairman Leigh Pomlett and chief executive Stefan Gamble fielded questions from supporters at a fans’ forum tonight.

Lasting around 90 minutes, the trio were quizzed on a number of topics, and Pomlett revealed Villa did not take a penny from last weekend’s friendly at Bescot.

Almost 9,500 attended the 4-0 loss to Steven Gerrard’s side – Bescot’s biggest crowd since the Chelsea League Cup tie in 2015 – and Walsall got all the takings, believed to run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Pomlett said: “The thing about Villa is they allowed us to have the whole proceeds from that game. Villa take nothing.

“It’s really important, Villa’s approach to that game.

“The following day, they flew to Australia, but they honoured the game.

"Steven Gerrard was fantastic with us. They’re our near neighbours and they took not a penny.”

Throughout the evening, there were questions around the Bescot freehold, with Pomlett hoping the ground can be secured soon – new owners Trivela Group having committed to attaining Bescot within two years.

Boycott confirmed a new goalkeeping coach has been appointed and will start next week.

Boycott also expanded on the budget and the work to secure a new striker for boss Michael Flynn.

“It’s a competitive, increased budget, and we’re committed to supporting Michael,” said Boycott.

“I believe you build your way out of this league. Everybody wants the big signings, but the danger of that is a club spending outside of its means.

"Not to be dramatic, that’s how clubs die. This club’s not going to die.

"I’m a huge fan of Michael. We’re in daily communication. He’s doing an outstanding job and we’re committed to supporting him.

“We’re not done signing players and plan to add players on the attack, absolutely. The striker situation is a daily, hourly conversation.”

Asked why Flynn was not present, Pomlett added: “He’s meeting a striker. I think the guy he’s meeting is a proven goalscorer.

“We’ve had three or four that we’ve talked to. The escalation of pricing is more than I’ve ever seen, but we’re committed to increasing the strikeforce.

"Me and Ben have spent all week on the phone trying to get the right striker in.”