Sir Doug El­lis

The Herald - - OBITUARIES . -

Busi­ness­man and foot­ball ex­ec­u­tive

Born: Jan­uary 3, 1924; Died: Oc­to­ber 11, 2018

SIR Doug El­lis, who has died aged 94, was a busi­ness­man and foot­ball ex­ec­u­tive who be­came one of the most prom­i­nent fig­ures in the Premier League as the chair­man of As­ton Villa. He had two spells in charge at Villa Park and ap­pointed some of its most fa­mous man­agers, in­clud­ing Scot Tommy Docherty, Gra­ham Tay­lor and Ron Atkin­son.

Sir Doug’s first spell at the club was from 1968 to 1975 and he served again be­tween 1982 and 2006, re­join­ing shortly af­ter Villa’s Euro­pean Cup win.

Villa won the League Cup three times dur­ing his reign – in 1975, 1994 and 1996 – and were run­ners-up in the in­au­gu­ral sea­son of the Premier League in 1992-93.

Born and brought up in Hooton in Cheshire, Doug lost his father when he was just three years old and worked lo­cal jobs from a young age to help his mother.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, he was sta­tioned in Sri Lanka which is where he be­gan to form the idea for a new travel agency sell­ing affordable pack­age hol­i­days –the busi­ness, based in Birm­ing­ham, made him a mil­lion­aire.

When he joined As­ton Villa in the late 1960s, the club was strug­gling in the Sec­ond Divi­sion and had fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties too and Sir Doug’s ten­ure did not ini­tially find suc­cess – the club was rel­e­gated to the Third Divi­sion in 1969.

It quickly gained pro­mo­tion though and in 1975 re­turned to the First Divi­sion and won the League Cup.

Known for his canny ap­proach to money, some fans thought that he should have spent more on new play­ers, but Sir Doug al­lowed Stan Col­ly­more to sign for his boy­hood club, pay­ing Liver­pool £7mil­lion for his ser­vices in 1997.

Like Col­ly­more, Ian Tay­lor was a young Villa fan who went on to play for the club – in his case close to 300 times – un­der Doug El­lis.

Paul Mcgrath, one of Villa’s great­est ever play­ers, was the bedrock of sev­eral teams built while El­lis was at the helm.

Af­ter a stock mar­ket flota­tion that made Sir Doug mil­lions, he sold up in 2006 to the Amer­i­can bil­lion­aire Randy Lerner, but re­mained at the club as life-time pres­i­dent.

The club con­firmed that a minute’s si­lence will be held at Villa Park when the club re­sume Cham­pi­onship ac­tion against Swansea on Oc­to­ber 20, for what will be Dean Smith’s first game as man­ager.

The play­ers will also wear black arm­bands.

He was ap­pointed OBE in 2005 and was knighted in 2012 for char­i­ta­ble ser­vices, He is sur­vived by sec­ond wife Heidi and his three sons.

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