Aston Villa hope their intended summer spending spree will lure some highprofile players to the club to strengthen David O'Leary's squad and boost season-ticket sales, writes James Nursey.

Villa have budgeted to spend around £20 million on new players in the next few months, regardless of seasonticket sales, but the club believe the positive spin-offs from a busy summer of transfer activity could increase their 22,000-strong band of season-ticket holders by as many as 1,500 for next term, when they hope to average crowds of 38,700.

Operations director Steve Stride said: "The supporters are waiting for us to get some high- profile names this summer and it's our intention to do so.

"Hopefully we will be able to get the players the manager wants and I'd be disappointed if we didn't see some exciting new players join.

"The biggest increase in season-ticket sales in the past was when we signed Stan Collymore from Liverpool for £7 million in 1997, so there is a clear correlation between sales and new players."

Stride was speaking yesterday as Villa announced their season-ticket prices for 2005/2006. Prices have gone up by six per cent, meaning the most expensive season ticket rises from £450 to £475.

However, North Stand season tickets have fallen by £30 for adults and a new price structure has been introduced to reduce costs for under-12s and fans aged 16-21.

Villa say their prices are the lowest in the region for Premiership clubs and claim their pricing structure compares very favourably to the rest of their top-flight rivals.

Head of marketing Phil Smith said: "When [manager] David O'Leary made his comment about funds, everyone thought ticket prices would go through the roof but that's not the case."

Existing season-ticket holders can renew their seats from May 16 and a full breakdown of prices will be available in the programme for Saturday's home game with Bolton Wanderers.