Sir Doug Ellis: Former Aston Villa chairman dies aged 94

Sir Doug Ellis
Sir Doug Ellis had a stand at Villa Park named after him in 1994

Former Aston Villa chairman Sir Doug Ellis has died at the age of 94.

Ellis had two spells as chairman of the West Midlands club, with the second one running from 1982 to 2006.

After selling the club to American businessman Randy Lerner, Ellis became life president.

When Villa were relegated from the Premier League in April 2016 he told the BBC he "could not be any sadder" and hoped to live to see them return to the top flight.

He attended Villa's Championship play-off final defeat by Fulham at Wembley in May.

Ellis was knighted in 2012 for his services to charity and has buildings named after him at both Birmingham University and Aston University after making substantial donations to both institutions.

He made his money in the travel industry and during his time in football earned the nickname "Deadly Doug".

Across his 35 years as chairman he made 13 managerial appointments, including making Slovakian Jozef Venglos the first person from outside Britain and Ireland to manage a top-flight club in England in 1990.

Sir Doug Ellis and Graham Taylor
Sir Doug Ellis appointed Graham Taylor as Aston Villa manager twice - in 1987 and 2002

In a statement, the club said they were deeply saddened to learn of Ellis' death and he had "dedicated his life to Aston Villa".

A minute's silence will be held before Villa's next home game against Swansea City on Saturday, 20 October.

'To me you were fantastic'

Former Aston Villa manager Brian Little, who led the team to success in the 1996 League Cup - the last trophy they won under Ellis' stewardship - posted on Twitter: "I was always taught to speak as you find. To me you were fantastic. RIP Sir Doug."

Ex-Villa striker Stan Collymore said that Ellis had "made it possible to fulfil my dream of playing for Villa, something I'll be eternally grateful to him for", while former midfielder Ian Taylor said Ellis had "played a massive part in our football club" and was "Villa through and through".

Mayor of the West Midlands and Aston Villa fan Andy Street said: "Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Doug Ellis. He was a man who was not only the guardian of my football club but was also a great philanthropist whose charity work was rightly recognised with a knighthood. My sympathies to his friends and family."

How Ellis became known as 'Deadly Doug'

It is common belief that Ellis gained his "Deadly Doug" nickname from his tendency to sack under-performing managers.

However, speaking in 2013, he revealed the real reason why.

"It had nothing to do with football," he said. "Jimmy Greaves and I were doing a show for ITV about fishing.

"I took the priest - that's the heavy tool used to kill fish when caught - off him and was leaning over Jimmy to help him out.

"The priest nearly hit him and he suddenly said 'you're deadly Doug!' That's how it happened and that's how the name came about.

"It had nothing to do with football but the public and the press like to think it did just because I sacked 11 managers."