Supporters and shareholders of Aston Villa have joined together to fight what they see as the "endless cycle of under-achievement" their club has suffered for the past 20 years.

Press Release - 8th August 2004.How can we work with Ellis when
his own management can not?

Aston Villa Shareholders Association (AVSA) in partnership with the pressure group Villa Fans Combined (VFC) have taken further steps to bolster their campaign of opposition to Chairman Doug Ellis by successfully adding a number of resolutions to be voted on at the forthcoming Aston Villa AGM on 10 September. Amongst the broad ranging resolutions shareholders will be asked to vote specifically on a 'no-confidence' motion in the Chairman as part of the formal business of the meeting.

In addition to this the Club are now required to send out a statement to Aston Villa shareholders alongside the Clubs annual report and accounts (appendix 1). These groundbreaking actions are aimed squarely at not only challenging Doug Ellis' control but also highlighting once again the inadequacies of his 22-year tenure and why AVSA and VFC believe that radical change at the Club is long overdue.

The resolutions are:
    1.1 That this meeting resolves that it has no confidence in the current Chairman;
    1.2 That the Chairman actively seeks to sell his interest in the Club at fair value to such parties who are best placed to bring investment, stability and skilled personnel to the Club;
    1.3 That the non-executive members of the board be charged with the responsibility of acting on behalf of ALL shareholders to advise on succession of strategically large shareholdings in respect of how it impacts on the interests of the shareholders, the Company, and its stakeholders and to report to shareholders within a reasonable period;
    1.4 That the board accept the appointment of a representative of supporter shareholders to look after the interests of important stakeholders that have small shareholdings but represent a significant part of the shareholding in the club; and
    1.5 That the name of the Doug Ellis Stand be changed to an alternative as decided on a poll of supporters, held specifically for that purpose.
This strategy marks a radical departure from the way in which supporter groups have in the past challenged perceived weaknesses in the running of their clubs.

David Carson, member of the Association and a corporate lawyer who structured the proposal said: "Traditionally, the only outlet that supporters have had in order to voice dissatisfaction at the running of their club was through the terrace chant. By using mechanisms long-enshrined in companies legislation, the Association is getting across its message that change of ownership at Aston Villa is long-overdue in a much more formal and novel way. The Club's annual general meeting is a very different arena to that of the football stadium. Nevertheless, it is a very influential one."

Chairman of AVSA and VFC spokesman Jonathan Fear said "We are realistic enough to know these resolutions are unlikely to succeed due to Mr Ellis' dominant holding. However, underpinning our call for radical change is the collective voice of a significant proportion of rank and file fans, both shareholding and non-shareholding alike. What unites us all is a firm belief that Doug Ellis does not offer a solid future for our Club."

"That is why we have also included a resolution that will galvanise the fan base as we are proposing a poll to enable the fans to decide the name of the former Witton Lane Stand, re-named Doug Ellis Stand without any consultation with fans or shareholders alike. Stands are usually named after fans favourites and heroes, given Aston Villa's long and proud history we feel there are far more deserving names than that of an unpopular Chairman."

"We hope that these actions will once again show Mr Ellis the level of dissatisfaction in his leadership. It is time for him to actively seek new investors and to stand aside".



Appendix One:

To: All Shareholders in Aston Villa Football Club plc
From: Aston Villa Shareholders Association and Villa Fans Combined

Aston Villa Shareholders Association and Villa Fans Combined are writing to you, in your capacity as a shareholder in Aston Villa Football Club plc, to outline why a change of control and ownership is long overdue and in the best interests of the Club.

We are asking all shareholders to support a resolution at the forthcoming AGM urging the Chairman to actively seek a sale of his shareholding to such parties who are best placed to bring investment, stability and skilled personnel to the Club.

We believe that Mr Ellis is not in a position to take the Club forward in order to re-establish itself amongst the top clubs of Europe and must be made to proactively find a buyer for his shares and sell up, once a suitable custodian is found.

Whether you are a shareholder who is a supporter of the football team or not, radical root and branch change is in your best interests and perhaps more importantly, in the best interests of the short and long-term development of the Club.

No one questions Mr Ellis's devotion to the Club. Nevertheless, the facts are that in the 20 years under his stewardship, the Club has woefully under performed and fallen far behind the leading football clubs of England and Europe. Mr Ellis took control shortly after the European Cup victory in 1982; five years later the Club was relegated. Numerous opportunities to build on short-term success have been consistently squandered. A succession of managers have either resigned under a cloud of frustration or been dismissed, unable to work under the control or constraints imposed by the Chairman. Top players have left, citing their frustration at the lack of ambition.

Put simply, Mr Ellis has not performed and is not in a position to redress this decline. In no other business context would the Chief Executive (for that is the role that Mr Ellis has performed until only very recently) of a listed company be allowed to maintain control of a business with such a dismal track record. We understand that Mr Ellis still exercises significant control and influence over the Club in spite of the appointment of a Chief Executive earlier this year.

Moreover, Mr Ellis has done extremely well from his acquisition of the Club. We are unable to find any evidence that Mr Ellis has put a penny in to the Club. But he has taken an enormous amount out in salary, dividends and share sales, estimated at 8million. All this whilst we have seen our investment dwindle from 11 per share at flotation to under 3.00 (and at one stage, well below that price). At the current price of 279.5p that equals a 74.6% loss.

On the pitch last season, the team performed way above expectation. The new manager, David O'Leary, has done a wonderful job. Overall, the quality of football has improved dramatically and there is cause for optimism for the future. As fans first and foremost, we are naturally delighted by last season's performance. But then, we have seen this many times before. The story of Mr Ellis' tenure at the Club is one of managerial upheaval, perpetual transition and moderate, sporadic success.

Action is long overdue. The high profile enjoyed by English football since the mid-1990s, the huge amounts of money that clubs have generated coupled with the fact that Aston Villa had no real local Premier League rival for well over a decade meant that the Club should have established itself firmly within domestic football. That chance was missed and the Club falls further behind the elite every season.

Mr Ellis may well claim that he has not had a 'serious' offer for his shareholding. We are saying that Mr Ellis at his age and with failing health, should put his shareholding up for sale, look for suitable custodians and expect to receive a realistic price. We are aware that the Club has significant fixed assets that would no doubt enhance the price of the Club's shares. If Mr Ellis truly loved Aston Villa Football Club, he would sell his shareholding at a fair value thus leaving a cash legacy for the Club.

We are also worried that there is no succession plan and no understanding of what will happen to Mr Ellis's significant shareholding on his death.

What can be done? Mr Ellis holds a significant shareholding in the Club. But shareholders and fans can play a part in having a 'Voice' in the Club. Thousands of individuals hold only a few shares. As a collection of disparate, individual shareholders, we hold very little power. Together, we have a 'Voice'. We encourage all shareholders who care about the future of the Club to join the Aston Villa Shareholders Association (AVSA) to unify our stakes and exercise a far more pivotal role in both the running of the Club and the way in which our shares are presided over after their disastrous performance since floatation.

By uniting under a common organisation, shareholders will have the most effective chance of persuading Mr Ellis to look for a suitable custodian for the Club. If we do not, then what will stop Mr Ellis from continuing to spurn approaches from investors that do not suit 'his needs' and hold back the development of Aston Villa?

Finally, AVSA is also proposing a resolution for the fans to decide on an appropriate name for the (formerly known) "Witton Lane Stand". That stand was re-named the "Doug Ellis Stand" when it was rebuilt in the mid 1990's without any consultation with the fans or shareholders. It should therefore be properly re-named following a vote of fans and shareholders.

For Further Information see , or write for details of membership of the Shareholders Association to 2 Oversley Close, Redditch, B97 6GW.

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Reaction from the first VFC meeting:
Paul's response: Remember the day - the 24th of May.

Shareholders Association Press Releases:
10th May 2004: Doug in disrepute
5th May 2004: Shareholders Association Appointments

Previous VFC Press Releases:
31st July 2004: Ellis in downsizing strategy shock!
17th June 2004: Doug it's not working.
18th May 2004: DOL - Thanks. HDE - No thank you...
6th April 2004: Nice to see you Bruce?
25th March 2004: Doug Rejects Salvation as Opportunity Knocks
16th February 2004: Doug Running Scared
30th January 2004: Money to burn???
9th January 2004: Birthday Wishes
3rd December 2003: Ellis In Blunderland
25th November 2003: Ellis, we're coming
20th November 2003: Situation Vacant
11th November 2003: Time for Action
27th October 2003: The Decline Deepens
9th September 2003: When VFC met Doug
9th August 2003: Open Season
1st August 2003: Annual Results - Hang Your Heads In Shame!!!
27th July 2003: Sell, Sell, Bye Bye - Is there a takeover in the wings?
11th July 2003: Football Fans Census - Villa Fans Survey
26th June 2003: Second Rally - The Hodgson Report
18th June 2003: Fans Testimonial for Ian Taylor and Alan Wright
6th June 2003: Second meeting announced.
20th May 2003: New Manager, same core problems.
20th May 2003: Rally 24th May - Update.
18th May 2003: Potential investors identifed - Report commissioned.
14th May 2003: GT Resigns. The Board Must Go Now.
12th May 2003: Another wasted season, another opportunity missed.
4th May 2003: VFC Update - The right moment?
10th April 2003: Treffick Shareholding, Uncertainty and the Fear.
4th April 2003: Club for Sale - Time For Change.

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