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By ESPN Staff
Jan 21, 2006

Villa fans welcome Ellis involving merchant bank

Aston Villa fans and shareholders have given the thumbs-up to the club's decision to appoint merchant bankers Rothschild to act as financial advisors in attempting to find a buyer for the club.

Villa chairman Doug Ellis and the board of directors have lost patience with the consortium comprising Irish property developers the Comer Bothers and frontman Michael Neville in not putting forward a concrete deal to take over the West Midlands outfit.

Talks have been ongoing for three months with a view to a possible £64million bid being lodged with Villa - and the consortium remain optimistic that a deal can still be struck.

But the move by Ellis and company to announce the involvement of Rothschild via a Stock Exchange statement has been welcomed by the Aston Villa Shareholders Association (AVSA) and Villa Fans Combined (VFC).

They have issued a statement which said: 'We are delighted the board have finally put the club in the hands of a merchant bank to seek out the best investors to take this fantastic club forward.

'Right from the inception of the protest group VFC, the main thrust was for Mr Ellis to put the club in the hands of a merchant bank who could actively seek new investment for Aston Villa.

'Unfortunately Mr Ellis didn't take the hint from the numerous protests and meetings!

'It has been clear for years that the platform has been built at Aston Villa. The main failing of the current board has been the inability to push on from that base.

'Friday's announcement should remedy that situation and we congratulate the board and Mr Ellis for finally doing what was required.

'This now means that interested parties can approach and talk with Rothschild as opposed to trying to negotiate directly with Mr Ellis, who does have a reputation for not listening to advice and being 'difficult'.

'Rothschild are highly respected and have obvious skills in this area and we believe their appointment will be welcomed by shareholders and fans alike. This news comes as a huge relief.

'Our hope is that it will now bring forward the right purchasers for the club, not the right approaches for the major shareholder.

'Who knows, we might actually attract a real sheikh as opposed to a 'fake Sheikh'. Sven-Goran Eriksson might have been indiscreet, but he was totally right when he told the undercover reporter that Aston Villa would be a great club to acquire.'

A source close to the Comer Brothers and Neville - a lifelong Villa fan - said: 'As far as we are concerned, nothing has changed. We are still pursuing the same course of action and remain optimistic we can soon do a deal with Aston Villa.'