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By ESPN Staff

Fan groups demand Ellis and Villa board quit

Aston Villa shareholders and supporters are calling for chairman Doug Ellis and the board to quit.

The Aston Villa Shareholders Association (AVSA) and Villa Fans Combined (VFC) have issued a joint statement expressing their dissatisfaction with events on and off the field during the 2005-06 campaign.

And they are concerned that the midlands club could be heading out of the Premiership with manager David O'Leary having to adopt a `sell-to-buy' policy in the summer.

The joint statement from AVSA and VFC reads: 'Doug Ellis told fans in the final match of the season programme against Sunderland that 'we are moving in the right direction'.

'It would be nice if he could explain to all fans and shareholders exactly what that direction is?

'Does he mean in the direction of the Championship because that is where we are heading. Aston Villa should not be moving in any direction because we should already be there.

'Now we have no money, a tiny squad, a manager who is hugely unpopular and a set of fans who are leaving in their thousands.

'After 22 years of Doug Ellis' `guidance' we are so far away from being a top-10 club that the board have had to revert to telling everyone Villa are the `Kings of the Midlands'.

'That might be good enough for Ellis and our incumbent board but it isn't and never will be good enough for the fans, shareholders and the heritage of this fantastic club.

'If these people had any pride and self-respect, they would step down with immediate effect. None of them have or will.'

The statement added: 'David O'Leary has managed to deflect a great deal of anger away from Ellis this season with his disastrous public relations statements and poor team performances.

'But what is he expected to achieve next season - if indeed he remains as our manager - if he has to sell from an already wafer-thin squad before he can buy?

'No matter how bad a job the manager has done this season the main finger of blame has to point at Doug Ellis.'

AVSA and VFC are also sceptical about the hopes of a takeover being pushed through this summer and believe Ellis is asking for too much money to sell Villa.

The statement says: 'It is obvious that the bid from the Comers isn't coming - if indeed it ever was - so Mr Ellis can stop hiding behind that excuse.

'It is also evident that the asking price that he has set conflicts with the valuation put on the club by potential investors.

'They will not pay over the odds for the shares when they know at least £20million is needed to strengthen the team and a further £8million is needed for the Bodymoor Heath training ground redevelopment.

'It is all well and good saying that the club is in the hands of Rothschild and is up for sale but if the price isn't realistic, Ellis knows full well that it won't sell and the status quo remains.'

The statement concludes: 'Both the chairman and manager have treated the fans with a great deal of disrespect and the result has been only two attendances over 40,000 and a massive seven per cent drop in overall attendances.

'Next season promises to get much worse with many fans refusing to renew season tickets and talking about boycotting the club until Ellis has gone.

'If something doesn't happen this summer, next season will be yet another struggle on and off the pitch.

'It seems obvious that we have a joke of a chairman and a joke of a board. The only people once again left not laughing are the fans and shareholders of Aston Villa.'