Doug Ellis

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Sir Doug Ellis
Doug Ellis.jpg
Ellis at the Boleyn Ground, November 2014
Chairman of Aston Villa F.C.
In office
Preceded by Ron Bendall
Succeeded by Randy Lerner
In office
Preceded by Norman Smith
Succeeded by William Dugdale
Personal details
Born Herbert Douglas Ellis
(1924-01-03) 3 January 1924 (age 94)
Hooton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Spouse(s) Heidi Marie Kroeger (m. 1963)
Children 3
Occupation President Emeritus (Life President) of Aston Villa

Sir Herbert Douglas "Doug" Ellis, OBE (born 3 January 1924),[1] is an entrepreneur, best known as the former chairman of Aston Villa Football Club. Ellis was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours List for charitable services.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Ellis began life in a poor family with a widowed mother.[3] 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.

Aston Villa[edit]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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.

Ellis was nicknamed "Deadly Doug" by Jimmy Greaves, after sacking numerous managers during his tenures as Chairman. During his first spell, Aston Villa's managers were Tommy Cummings (1967–1968), Tommy Docherty (1968–1970), Vic Crowe (1970–1974) and Ron Saunders (1974–1982). In his second spell, Villa's managers were Saunders (1974–1982), Tony Barton (1982–1984), Graham Turner (1984–1986), Billy McNeill (1986–1987), Graham Taylor (1987–1990), Jozef Vengloš (1990–1991), Ron Atkinson (1991–1994), Brian Little (1994–1998), John Gregory (1998–2002), Graham Taylor (2002–2003), David O'Leary (2003–2006) and Martin O'Neill (2006–2010).

In 1996 Ellis owned 47 percent of Aston Villa. In May 1997 the club floated on the stock market with a valuation of £126m.[citation needed]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%.[citation needed]

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. He has also served on the boards of Birmingham City, Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers (as Chairman).

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 2005 New Year Honours List.[6] 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. By this time some supporters and former club managers criticised Ellis's alleged lack of ambition, noting that the club often struggled to bring in top players.[7][8]

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.

Charitable Projects[edit]

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’.[9]


  1. ^ "Doug's Deadly Number Plate - Doug Ellis". Registration Transfers. Archived from the original on 22 May 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2008. 
  2. ^ "No. 60009". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2011. p. 1. 
  3. ^ Deadly Doug's detractors are just keeping up appearances - The Guardian, Nicky Campbell, 27 July 2006
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Who is the Villain of the piece? - BBC Sport News, 18 July 2006
  6. ^ "Ellis awarded New Year accolade". BBC News. 2004-12-31. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  7. ^ Villa squad attack Ellis for lack of ambition Archived July 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. - The Independent, 15 July 2006
  8. ^ O'Leary departure no surprise - The Express and Star, 20 July 2006
  9. ^ "" (PDF).  External link in |title= (help)