Villa players issue statement attacking chairman Ellis

July 14, 2006

LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) -- Aston Villa players issued a statement on Friday attacking long-standing chairman Doug Ellis as penny-pinching and lacking ambition for the Premier League club.

The Villa squad issued a joint statement raising concerns over 82-year-old Ellis, who put the club up for sale in October.

"The chairman should be behind the club and not working against what we're trying to achieve," said the statement which was widely reproduced in British media.

"There've been a series of cutbacks and we feel we have to mention this because they are now starting to affect us."

They said he refused to pay 300 pounds ($550) to have training pitches watered and an expense claim from the club physiotherapist for a cup of coffee at an airport was refused.

Ellis's attempts to find a buyer for the midlands club have yet to bear fruit and the players are unhappy at the extent the chairman has tightened the purse strings.

The statement added: "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."

There was no immediate reaction from the club or Ellis.

Ellis has been chairman of Villa in two separate spells, from 1968 to 1975 and from 1982 to the present day.