Aston Villa set for flotation on stock market

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The Independent Online
Aston Villa is poised to become the latest football club to float on the Stock Exchange in a move that could net Doug Ellis, its chairman, pounds 30m.

Mr Ellis, nicknamed ``Deadly Doug'' because of his penchant for sacking managers, is understood to be in late-stage negotiations with Albert E Sharp, the Premier League club's brokers, and Midland Bank, the club's financial advisers, about the flotation.

"It is quite close but there are a couple of sticking points," said a source familiar with the talks.

These are thought to include the composition of the Villa board at flotation and the size of fees Mr Ellis is prepared to pay the club's various advisers. It also remains unclear if Mr Ellis will be taking any money out of the club if Villa goes public. The source confirmed reports that Mr Ellis's stake would be worth pounds 30m at flotation.

Mr Ellis paid pounds 425,000 to buy control of the club in 1982. His holding has since been diluted down to 47 per cent, valuing the club at around pounds 64m if the flotation plans go ahead. Shares in the Premiership club are currently traded on a matched-bargain basis on the Ofex market.

Mr Ellis has also ruled out the possibility of finding a trade buyer for the club. Carlton, holders of the Central commercial television licence that covers the Birmingham region, was mentioned as one candidate.

News that another Premier League club was poised to join the market came as lowly Bournemouth called in the receivers. The privately owned Second Division club has debts of pounds 4.5m and was facing several possible winding- up petitions, including one from the Inland Revenue, for non-payment of long-standing staff and player and PAYE contributions.

"The financial outlook at this stage is not encouraging," said Alan Lewis, one of two partners at accountants Arthur Anderson who are acting as administrative receivers.

"However, our intention is saving football at Bournemouth. We have been tentatively contacted by possible `white knight' investors who might participate in the club's future if we can find a solution to its immediate financial problems."

In the year to June 1995 Bournemouth made an operating loss before transfer fees of pounds 483,000 on turnover of pounds 1.15m.

Bournemouth is the second football club to run into financial difficulties this week. Shares in Millwall of the Second Division were suspended on Tuesday after the club called in the administrators.

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