|Sir Doug Ellis|
Ellis at the Boleyn Ground, November 2014
|Born||Herbert Doug Ellis
3 January 1924
Hooton, Cheshire, England
|Other names||Deadly Doug|
|Occupation||President Emeritus (Life President) of Aston Villa|
|Title||Chairman of Aston Villa (1968-1975 & 1982-2006)|
|Predecessor||Sir William Dugdale (1982)|
|Successor||Sir William Dugdale (1975)
Sir Herbert Douglas Ellis, OBE (born 3 January 1924), is an entrepreneur, best known as the former chairman of Aston Villa Football Club. Ellis was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for charitable services.
Ellis began life in a poor family with a widowed mother. Ellis had brief glimpses of a football career at Tranmere Rovers, he spent two years as a schoolboy with the club. Before he was 40, he had become a millionaire by pioneering package holidays to Spain.
Ellis was a controversial chairman and major shareholder of Aston Villa for two separate spells; the first being from 1968 to 1975. Ellis was replaced as chairman and finally ousted from the board in 1979. During his absence Aston Villa enjoyed its greatest period of success in modern times, winning the Football League title in 1981 and the European Cup in 1982, also enjoying success in the 1990s with two League Cup triumphs as well as finishing runners-up in the league on two occasions.
Ellis returned as chairman in 1982 and remained there until selling to Randy Lerner in 2006. Some fans blame him for the decline of the club after the European Cup victory in 1981/2. Within five years the club was relegated from the top flight, with many of the European Cup-winning team being sold to other teams, although it can be argued that this was due to large debts built up during the previous regime.
In 1996 Doug Ellis owned 47 percent of Aston Villa. In May 1997 the club floated on the stock market with a valuation of £126m. Ellis sold a number of his shares at flotation, reducing his shareholding to around one-third of the total shares. It is reported that Ellis made £4m from this deal, although the flotation also raised funds to pay for the construction of the new Trinity Road Stand and for the £7m transfer of Stan Collymore from Liverpool, among others. Since the flotation, the club's share price had fallen by almost 90%.
Some Villa fans were disappointed with the destruction of the 1920s Trinity Road stand ("the St Pancras of football", as a Sunday Times reporter called it in 1960), which many believe should have been a listed building. The replacement, although state of the art, never had the grandeur of the original.
Ellis was reported to be the first football club director to pay himself a salary (in 2005 it was £290,000 after a 12% increase from the previous year) when it was made legal by The Football Association in the early 1980s. Along with this, his professed love of Aston Villa Football Club has been questioned in light of the fact that he has served on the Boards of Villa's arch-rivals Birmingham City, Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers (as Chairman). In addition to his 'director's salary, being the majority shareholder through his time at the helm of Aston Villa, there were three instances when the dividend paid out was less than £1,000,000; in all other years figures as high as £12,000,000 were paid out, some of the largest dividends ever paid out by any British Football Club.
In 2004, at the age of 80 and suffering from prostate cancer, Ellis agreed to relinquish some of his control of the club by appointing Bruce Langham as chief executive. Langham resigned in May 2005, reportedly after a disagreement with Ellis. In 2005 he was appointed an OBE in the New Year Honours List. Later that year he underwent a heart bypass operation and, after a three-month absence, returned to his role at Villa Park soon after the start of the 2005/2006 season.
On 14 August 2006, it was announced that Ellis had agreed to sell the club to American billionaire, Randy Lerner in a deal worth £63 million. Ellis stood aside when the takeover was completed on 19 September 2006, becoming a President Emeritus (Life President) of the club. Ellis received an honorary degree from Aston University in July 2007 (the campus of which is located 2 miles south of Villa Park in the centre of Birmingham) On 4 March 2012, Ellis was knighted for his charity work.
In January 2012 the Doug Ellis Learning Hub was opened at the University of Birmingham Medical School. Ellis reportedly donated £400,000 towards the feature. In April 2013, the newly refurbished Sir Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre at Aston University opened, with a new sports hall and squash courts partly funded by Doug Ellis.
Also in 2012, Ellis donated £10,000 to the building of a new school gymnasium at Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls. In his letter to the school, he wrote that: ‘You clearly have a school to be proud of…and I wish you every success in achieving your goal’.
Supporters and former club managers criticised Ellis's alleged lack of ambition, noting that the club often struggled to bring in top players. Ellis responded that his approach had always been one of financial prudence, helping to avoid the fate of big-borrowing clubs. Under John Gregory the club had been one of the biggest spenders in the Premier League, but Gregory always wanted 2-3 more players. There were several supporter-led campaigns for Ellis to stand down from his position, and in his final years at the club a number of interested parties made unsuccessful attempts to buy his stake in the club.
- "Doug's Deadly Number Plate - Doug Ellis". Registration Transfers. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2011.
- Deadly Doug's detractors are just keeping up appearances - The Guardian, Nicky Campbell, 27 July 2006
- Who is the Villain of the piece? - BBC Sport News, 18 July 2006
- "Ellis awarded New Year accolade". BBC News. 2004-12-31. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- Villa squad attack Ellis for lack of ambition - The Independent, 15 July 2006
- O'Leary departure no surprise - The Express and Star, 20 July 2006