VFC recognise that Aston Villa are at yet another crossroads. With a further youth player – heralded by Mr Ellis as the golden future – being sold to a lower division club (Ryan Amoo, Northampton Town) and with two high profile players calling on the board to back David O’Leary (Appendix One) it is now down to Mr Ellis to decide how he is going to react, be it for the love of the club or the love of himself.
We note with interest a bid has been rejected and can only hope that Mr Ellis distances him self – as he has a personal interest – from any negotiations that could arise.
It is clear from Mr O’Leary’s comments about the size of the squad and the expected low budget for the summer (quoted at between £1.5million and £2million) that he will be forced to search in the bargain basement for transfers. This is not good enough for a club of the size and potential of Aston Villa. It is also not the sort of situation that will help attract the right quality of player to the club, keep the stars we have from leaving or indeed to persuade our manager that his long term future doesn’t lie with a more progressive and ambitious club. Previous managers have left out of frustration, VFC do not see why that pattern won’t continue unless positive steps are taken.
VFC call for a simple and clear statement from Mr Ellis that - at the age of 80 years old and with failing health - he is willing to listen to offers for his majority shareholding in Aston Villa. If he signals his intent to sell then the fans and shareholders can ask no more of him, especially if he distances himself from any negotiations so as not to prejudice them. It is time for Mr Ellis to prove he loves Aston Villa, to prove himself man enough to step aside for a more dynamic and capable board. It is never easy to let go, but the time is long overdue.
VFC have taken a watching brief in the past couple of months to help the team and manager concentrate on pulling away from relegation trouble and progressing up the league. We congratulate both the manager and the team for reaching safety with such stretched resources but stress that unless radical changes are made, we will flirt with such dangers season after season.
If Mr Ellis signals his intent to listen to offers, the protests, disaffection and ill feeling can come to an immediate halt, everyone at the club from board level downwards can pull together and the ground work set in place can be built upon in order to give this great club the chance to get back to the elite of football where it rightly belongs and indeed did belong before Mr Ellis returned. If not, the protests will again be stepped up, something none of us want, and the customers and shareholders of Aston Villa will continue to fight until they see the club treated with the professionalism and respect it deserves.
We simply say, Mr Ellis, your previous managers have failed to be able to work with you, the last, Mr Graham Taylor admitting that he told you to leave having said your running of the club is “irresponsible”; the current manager is calling for backing, as are his players and the fans. It is time for change.