Former Aston Villa owner Sir Doug Ellis dies aged 94
Former Aston Villa owner Sir Doug Ellis has died aged 94.
Ellis - one of the most important figures in Midlands football over the past 50 years - had two spells as the club's chairman, the second of which lasted from 1982 until 2006.
His death was announced this morning just hours after the club appointed Dean Smith as head coach alongside John Terry, who returns to the club as an assistant coach.
A statement on Villa's official club website said: "Aston Villa Football Club is deeply saddened to hear of the death of our former chairman Sir Doug Ellis.
"Our president emeritus passed away this morning. There's no question that Sir Doug dedicated his life to Aston Villa.
"Our condolences go out to family and friends at this very sad time."
A former travel agent who had a spell on the board of Birmingham City, Ellis first took charge at Villa Park in 1968, guiding the club through one of the toughest periods in their history which included two seasons in the Third Division.
Ellis left in 1975 but returned in 1982, having briefly served on the board of Wolves as a director. He remained at helm until he sold the club to Randy Lerner in 2006.
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Villa won the League Cup in both 1994 and 1996 and finished second in the inaugural 1992/93 Premier League season.
But Ellis was also a man who divided opinion.
Blamed for the break-up of Villa's 1982 European Cup-winning squad, he was also frequently criticised by supporters for a perceived lack of ambition.
He also had a reputation for sacking managers and was infamously given the nickname "Deadly Doug" by former England international-turned-TV pundit Jimmy Greaves.
After selling up to Lerner in 2006, Ellis was named Villa's President Emeritus and remained a regular attendee at matches.
He was knighted in 2012 for charitable services, having donated millions of pounds to charities such as Childline.
Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline founder and president today paid tribute, saying: “Sir Doug has left a wonderful legacy of all the hundreds of thousands of desperate children he has helped in his lifetime.
“Over the years he gave over a million pounds to Childline, including the launch of our night service in Birmingham. I met him many times to thank him in person. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this very sad time.”
Villa have announced that they will hold a minute's silence ahead of their next Championship game against Swansea, with all the players also wearing black armbands in memory of the former owner.