Sir Doug Ellis insists he does not regret selling Aston Villa to Randy Lerner, but the former owner admits he has cried over the club’s plight.
Ellis was chairman at Villa Park for 31 years before selling the club to Lerner for just over £60million in 2006. After back-to-back sixth-place finishes in 2008 and 2009, Villa are now mired in a relegation battle, with just eight points from 20 games this season.
Lerner has been blamed by much of the Villa support for the state of the club a decade into his ownership, with relegation to the Championship almost certain.
Villa are one of just seven Premier League ever-presents since the league’s foundation in 1992, but even Ellis, who turned 92 earlier this month, sees no escape route for his former club.
“Relegation is inevitable now and any tears are now rather than at a specific time,” he told the Daily Mirror.
“I put blood, sweat and toil into the club but when the time comes I won’t be surprised we are relegated, therefore I am suffering now rather than then. Nevertheless it will be a very sad day when we are no longer in the Premier League.
“It never entered my head then when I sold the club but I don’t regret selling to Randy. I am a great believer in a gentleman’s handshake.
“To me I sold to a good man in Randy Lerner. I had a lot of business with 18 or 19 chairmanships throughout my business life. I have always valued the ones where there hasn’t been a lot of paperwork and just a simple shake of hands.
“If both sides agree to what we said at the shake of a hand then I am a happy man. To me he is a perfect example of that.
“He said he will put money in, I think it was £200million, he did do and has done.
“He has shaken hands and kept his word but it is just a pity the people he has appointed as managers and the amount of money he has given them hasn’t worked out I am afraid.”