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Doug Ellis
Doug Ellis

Was Doug Ellis good or bad for Villa?

Inside Out examines the legacy of ‘Deadly Doug’ on BBC ONE, Friday 12th of January. What do you think of Doug's reign? Click on the right of this page to cast your vote >>

Was Doug Ellis good or bad for Villa? Click on the right of this page to cast your vote >>

Inside Out: 'Deadly Doug'

Airs on BBC ONE at 7.30pm, Friday January 12th 2007.

BBC ONE's Inside Out looks at Doug Ellis' legacy.

Doug Ellis
Doug Ellis

Was he a shrewd businessman and ardent Villa supporter who did his best to make the club successful – and keep them in the black and in the Premiership?

Or was he – as some critics say - a tight-fisted and un-ambitious chairman, without a clear plan, who did little more than make a personal fortune from the club?

Doug Ellis answers his critics on Inside Out

For nearly forty years Aston Villa football club was dominated by its controversial chairman. Doug Ellis' departure in September last year ended a reign which has seen the club through the highs of league and European club victories, to the lows of relegation.

Ron Atkinson
Ron Atkinson

“I have made some mistakes, but by and large I can look back with pride at what I achieved at Aston Villa”, Ellis tells Inside Out's Nick Owen, who has followed the club’s fortunes since the seventies.

Few could disagree that Ellis has left the club in better shape than he found it in 1968. Languishing in the second division, it was a far cry from the glory days of its 1957 FA Cup win.

Managers and profits

By the seventies Villa were back on top, but Ellis was already beginning to earn a reputation for getting through managers - 13 in all, 8 of whom Ellis fired.

Graham Taylor
Graham Taylor

“The story was that Villa was unmanageable because of Doug. ‘Don’t go to Villa…’” says Graham Taylor, who managed the club twice under Doug.

Ron Atkinson was sacked as manager in 1994, by Ellis. He tells Inside Out:

“I think he resented the fact I was popular with fans. I think he would have preferred to have lost the final, and had the fans chant his name.”

Another accusation is that Ellis profiteered from Villa. It's an accusation he denies. On selling his shares in the club for £21 million he says:

“I have lost a lot of money from leaving businesses I was in and spending my time on Aston Villa. Much more than 30 million I would estimate.”

"It hurts"

Protesting against Doug Ellis
Protesting against the chairman

In his last few years at the club angry fans even orchestrated an ‘Ellis out’ campaign.  The former Villa chairman tells Inside Out that the fans anger affected him and his family:

“It hurts because they do not know the truth. It certainly affected my wife’s health, and depression, mainly because of nasty and threatening phone calls that I received every day for a period”.

Inside Out: 'Deadly Doug', on BBC ONE at 7.30pm, Friday January 12th 2007.

Was Doug Ellis good or bad for Villa? Click on the right of this page to cast your vote >> The final results will be announced during BBC Midlands Today's, 6.30pm, Friday January 12th 2007.

last updated: 12/01/07
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I think it's wrong any Villa Fan has a pop at doug... We are a big club, no debt, well ran and most of all have a fantastic stadium... yeah Doug is criticised for not spending but look at the players he has bought in and the millions spent on them over the years.... I am thankful to Doug and i think Villa fans should be to! Come on the lions!

Colin Bryan, Castle Bromwich
I first went to Villa in 1938, but agree with Jack Gallimore 100%. You could hear the sigh of relief when it was announced that Doug was to leave. I did not believe it at first, as we had heard that one before.I wish all at Villa the very best, but it will take some time to undo 30 years of mis-management.

Andy Kaye
To be fair to Doug Ellis he did give his managers money to spend on players. However, he did sack managers that were good for Aston Villa such as Graham Taylor and Ron Atkinson and as such there was never continuity at the club. There has been a steady dilution of quality at the club in terms of players resulting in the worst Villa team I have seen at the point of Dougs departure. Martin O'Neil has inherited these players and it remains to be seen what sort of team he will build. I'm not sure if the arrival of Martin O'Neil was of Dougs making but I hope the new board will give him someting Doug could not and that is the time to build a new team which may take years. Fans will need to be patient though as I think this is a big job.

Rick T.
Doug Ellis love him or hate him?well he certainly bunged from time to time.Some of the fans seem to think that he should have given the Villa a blank cheque,why?he didn't have that much money.Even when he put the club up for sale the wild funder that some fans seek failed to materialise.So why isn't Randy L.bunging now?we a sinking down the table again?good luck Doug in whatever time you've got left.Where not worthy.R.

Paul Gould
You never miss what was good until it's gone.We'll see how the new regime does ina couple of years.History will prove that Premiership soccer is an horrendous business !! Doug made mistakes but Aston Villa now has the chance to build on the financial stability and with new owners maybe make the grade.Englands loss is our gain in O'Neil but he will need time.

Rob Leake
Awful for Villa. He just made himself a rich man on the back of the club. I stopped having a season ticket as soon as Doug took a six figure salary out of the club each year. How big is the man's ego when he can name a stand after himself but fail to acknowledge the achievements of 1981-82?If only his ambition had matched his ego!

Females Everywhere
Its only a game !!!

vincent t
Graham Taylor got it spot on with his assessment of Doug Ellis,although i think Doug did have the club at heart,when it came to winning things he was a total Jonah.

In all of doug ellis,s interviews you never hear him say we its always I. there's no I in team.In my opinion he was on a gigantic ego trip.But I still wish him a happy retirement.

Bendall Out
More good than bad, Villa would not of been such an ideal buy for Randy otherwise ?

Gabe Gray
He may have started with good intentions but he believed his own hype and allowed Villa to become not a sleeping giant but a comatose one. As a shareholder at AGMs etc I never heard hin give a straight answer to a question. He should have gone years ago.

Doug helped saved Villa in the 60s, but then he shot the club in the foot so often it became a laughing stock. Get his name off the Witton Lane stand. There are far greater Villa names from the past that don't even have a turnstile named after them. One of them invented the football league!

Doug Ellis was only a businessman, only interested in the red and black of the accounts books. What we needed was an ambitious chairman, willing to spend, who would bleed claret and blue. Good riddance Doug.

Thanks for saving the club in 1968..... well for helping Pat Matthews and others. But why did you hang on too long and then end up destroying the Euriopean Cup side by coming back? I am sure your friends in the press who have been wined and dined at shareholders expence will attempt to make you a hero but those who have been interested over the last few years KNOW the truth!

Colly Moore
Thanks Doug for the years you put into Villa, but you always settled for second best until you put o'niell in charge, was that to appease the fans? The only time Villa were worth watching was when you wasn't there! Happy days are here again.

michael keating
The only thing Doug Ellis saved villa from was success. He seemed to set his goal of having the FA cup semifinal at villa park each year rather than having a team that would play in it. All those managers who failed venglos,taylor,little,atkinson,mcneill etc. some of them might have been good but got the sack because of poor results. But who picked them in the first place!!!

Matt Jackson
How many chairman spend the amount of time on matchday going round the fans and hospitality areas that Doug did? When my daughter was a mascot last year for the West Ham game, Doug sat and signed every kids program even though his assistants were telling him he had to go somewhere else. As Doug said "these kids are the future of the club." It made every one of those kids day to have their program signed by him and have their photo taken. I've never seen another football club chairman do that, and i dont think i'll ever see Randy do it!

I think we should change the name of the Doug Ellis stand. I think the Randy stand would be a good one :)

John Lanfear
Doug was absolutely vital to the survival of AVFC we would have gone long ago without him. Ijust hope his critics crawl back under their rocks where they belong

Mike O'Brien
Good luck Doug, will be an interesting watch!

doug ran villa for dougs benefit he was never a villa man he had a corner shop mentality and wont be missed

He should have gone after Dwight Yorke's disgraceful breach of contract at Everton. That defined the fact that we could no longer hold our own with the media's favourite teams

Doug was a great ambassador for Villa, he suppoerted all his managers with millions, and had little or no reward, and has our club debt free. although i am pleased randy lerner has come in, i would like to thank doug for his contribution over the years

Doug held Villa back for years. If he hadn't gone when he did Villa would have been playing non-league football in a few years time. Shame he can't get on the board at Birmingham City and stop them progressing!

Jack Gallimore
Ive been supporting Villa since 1960. I remember the old board and how poor they were but to say Ellis saved the club in 1968 is not quite true. The money was put up by Pat Mathews which was brilliant unfortunately Pat madw one big mistake in installing Ellis as Chair who subsequently took almost £30m out of the club and never invested a penny of his own. The only good thing he did was Villa was to sell to Randy Lerner.

Stefan, I think you are getting your dates confused. Saunders was gone long before Ellis returned in 1982. Saunders quit after a row with Bendall

His time had come and gone, he lived in his Ivory Tower micro managing the club like a train set. He claims the club was not in debt when he sold it, wrong there was a great debt owed to the supporters who were starved of success of any type over the years. Investment would have been returned through the turnstiles....... Had he not left when he did the club would be in the bottom three and the Midlands would be left with no Premiership Representation...

Dwayne Henry
Mr Ellis overstayed his welcome by about 15 years, he always gave money, but never enough, his problem was his ego and desire to be liked by the Fans. He sadly interfered and Players like Ginola, Curcic, Djemba2 and Collymore, were bought more to pacify the support, than from a managerial long term plan. His failure was not to realise that Aston Villa is a bigger story than he was. He kept us solvent, but his inadequacies and cornershop mentality in the age of the Premiership were hindering. In tandem with Matthews, Parkes, Kartz etc in 1968 he did an excellent rebuilding job, but it was always a popularity contest for Mr Ellis. I hope he enjoys a long retirement.

Anyone who says Doug Ellis was bad for Villa is saying they would rather see the club how it was before he took over – struggling at the foot of the second division, with a stadium falling apart and barely a squad of fit players. Of course he has made mistakes, but the club is in better shape than when he took over – therefore, by definition he has been good for the club. It is often pointed out that the club's most successful period was during the five years he was away from the club, but do these fans really think that Ron Bendall was better? Surely the North Stand scandal should put paid to that argument. Ellis has certainly appointed some bad managers, but he also appointed Graham Taylor, Ron Atkinson, the present manager, and of course, the great Ron Saunders. His biggest mistake was probably sacking Barton. Look at the other clubs in the region – surely Ellis has done a better job than any of their chairmen? Ellis should have gone years ago, but I can't understand all the vitriol aimed at him. Whether he was right or wrong , he only ever did what he thought was best for the club. Too many of the "Ellis Out" brigade are people who have no memory of what the club was like before he arrived – many of them seem to be under the impression that he suddenly arrived on the scene in 1982, with no knowledge of what went on in the 70s and 80s. You have to judge the man on his 35 years at the club as a whole, not just a selected few years. I'm glad Randy Lerner has taken over, but only because of the changing nature of the game. Sadly today's game is all about money, buying the most expensive players, so we need a billionaire to be able to compete. Call me sentimental, but I can't help but thinking it was better when clubs were run by local businessmen rather than foreign tycoons. Supporters should remember Ellis leading the army of fans who gave up their Saturdays to renovate the ground back in the 60s.

Paul Adams
Doug Ellis was obviously a very good business man but an absolute disaster as a chairman of a football club everybody knows he bought the players collymore and ginola not the manager he never had a long term stratergy for the club any body who becoming more popular tham him had to go He has made an absolute fortune from Aston Villa including the PLC flotation and the eventual sale of the club dont forget his salary for being a part time chairman and the bonuses he used to pay himself for being average What i will never forgive him for was for making Aston Villa a laughing stoke over the last years of his Chaimanship he made small clubs like bolton Wigan Reading Middlesbrough to name just a few become larger than Aston Villa good ridance to you Mr Ellis you have made 30 years of my life watching Aston Villa a total nightmare hers to Randy Lerner and Martin O,neil i hope ispeak for all fans when i say that i am no looking forward to comming to Villa Park again

Dan Wichmann
Doug did one for right for Villa, sold - eventually. He mad a fortune from the club while Villa went backwards, from Champions of Europe at his 2nd coming to relegation. I can only dream of where Villa could be today if he hadn't of come back.

I have been supporting villa since early 94 as a kid, so I suppose I could say Villa have done reasonably ok in that period, a couple of trophies, and some decent finishes, but that would be something of a misnomer. One easy way to understand some of the problems is to see how much work our new owners are putting into facilities which should have been updated years ago, looking to spread links with the communities at home and aborad that should have been done years ago... and, hopefully putting more money consistently into the club - which should have been done years ago. Ellis' plan would be to invest one year of about 10-12 mil and assume that should be enough for the next three years, which ensured, as fees got bigger that we did nothing more than stand still or go backwards. Yes one or two years of woe could be put at the feet of managers, Taylors second return and the latter half of O'leary's reign for example, but an ego that was inversley proportional to his amibtion had blighted our club long enough.

Stefan Green
Doug Ellis did save Aston Villa in 1968 but when he was not chairman for the 1980-1981 season we wong the League Champonship. When he became chairman again from the 1981-1982 season, he told Ron Saunders that Aston Villa did not need any more players because we had won the League with just 14 players. Thats why Ron Saunders left Aston Villa and since that season Doug has been happy with just balancing the books. Which means that we never won anything execpt the League Cup.

Please do not knock Doug. Maybe he did hang on that little bit too long and did not embrace the running of a Premier League club in the 21st century. As a Villa fan for almost 50 years i remember the taem training on waste land behind what is now the North Stand. He did a great deal of good for the Villa. Doug i wish you all the best for the future and thank you for everything you have done for the club.

john haley

Doug Ellis was always a business man and ran the club as such. It is a sad indictment of his reign at the club that in all his years he could not deliver the fans with one Premier league or FA cup success. Simply football is a results game, as he well knows as do all his former managers; he failed in an grand manner. An for all that consider him a benevolent man they should remember his extreme penny pinching eg refusing Ian Taylor his testimonial after 9 yrs (a man who is an ardent villa fan). He gave money to managers at the sametime recouping huge amounts to balance the books in doing so never allowing a settled high class squad to gel. In my opinion he was a terrible chairman that took the club back years and who never communicted well with media or fans, I am grateful for his departure everyday.

Simon Dawson
As a Baggy Supporter, I would have welcomed someone like Doug Ellis at the Hawthorns..What have Blues, Albion, Wolves done while he was in Charge??? They have never been out of the premiership. Made a couple of dodgy signings, Collymore, Angel just to name two, but would that have been the Manager!!

The facts show Ellis gave the managers the money (much more than our billionaire neighbours) it's only when they shamefully wasted it, that like any businessman he adopted the approach 'I'm not giving him anymore... if I sack him who do we get - have we got the money to bankroll another manager? Doug was let down by successive managers, if you look at the background to the Lerner sale, it was prompted by the fact that Villa is a sound, well run financial business to build on and you have to give Ellis credit for that. He's also a very charitable man, always makes himself available for functions, at no cost, something that is not well known.

Keith Gleadall, Manukau, New Zealand
I've been a fan for just on 50 years, although for the last 30 or so I've lived in NZ. Doug was good for the club, but he sadly outstayed his welcome. However, I believe that he was trying to do it for the betterment of the club. He didn't want to see it brought to its' knees like Leeds United!

T. Austin
For 25 years we have seen a gradual decline from Villa being one of the top clubs to a point where we may never recover from the lousy management and inadequate funding of Ellis's time in charge.Nevertheless, all best wishes to the new team.

Big Ron
If he was such an ardent Villa fan how come he was on the boards of Blues and Wolves. No 'Ardent' fan would ever of dreaming of doing that!

At lest Deadly did spend lets what Dandy Randy does, maybe he just wants the name, never mind you wont pint this i am just a Bluenose.....

Doug was good for villa as he had the club at heart. But he should have gone that little extra to get the best players for us, by going that little further with the money. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME AT VILLA DOUG!!!!

he was good but held on to us too much and never let people get on now he has gone a sleeping giant has awoken and he can see that too.

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Was Doug Ellis good or bad for Villa?


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