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By ESPN Staff
Jul 15, 2006

Ellis furious after players released damning statement

Doug Ellis is 'furious' about reports that Aston Villa players questioned his ambition after a series of financial cutbacks.

A joint statement, presented as being on behalf of Villa's first team squad, was issued yesterday and in it players voiced their concerns at cost cutting by Ellis who put the club up for sale last October.

The players, in their statement, said 'if the chairman has got ambition he needs to start showing it', claimed there had been 'a series of cutbacks' at the club including a refusal by Ellis to pay £300 to water pitches and insisted there was 'no investment in the team' and 'no positives coming out of the club'.

But Villa hit back with a statement of their own on the club's website under the headline `Players and chairman unite'.

Villa head of media and communications Phil Mepham said: 'The chairman is furious, because he has had no indication from any member of the playing or coaching staff of any dissatisfaction at the training ground. So this has come as a great surprise.

'Once the 'story' broke, I spoke to several senior members of the first-team squad, all of whom had no knowledge of the statement. All of them were surprised at its content. So to suggest this is a collective statement is ridiculous.'

The players' statement read: 'People talk about Aston Villa being a big club and winning the European Cup in 1982.

'We feel it should be a big club but if the chairman has got ambition, he needs to start showing it. It has to come from the top.

'So many other clubs are doing so much to show their ambition apart from us. As players we're all ambitious and we want to improve on last season.

'The chairman should be behind the club and not working against what we're trying to achieve. There have been a series of cutbacks and we feel we have to mention this because they are now starting to affect us.

'At the end of last season, the chairman refused to pay £300 for the pitches to be watered. The training ground development, which we were all looking forward to working in, has stopped.

'Now we have lost a masseur because the club refuse to pay for one and are clubbing together to pay for our own.

'We have also heard that the physio, who was on his way to see Martin Laursen, could not claim back for a cup of coffee at the airport.

'We've had no explanation for the cutbacks and we feel if the manager (David O'Leary) can't get one, then we have no chance.

'Maybe the chairman thought he would have left by now because of the takeover. Supporters are concerned with what happens on the pitch and rightly so.

'But we feel with all the cutbacks, it is difficult to attain the targets we all share.

'In the second half of last season, there was no investment in the team, a loan player - Eirik Bakke - was sent back to Leeds, and now we're unable to sign James Milner from Newcastle.

'There are no positives coming out of the club. We need to see a plan where the club is going and all the players feel the same. Every penny is being watched.'