Ansell may be ready for Aston Villa comeback with Ranson's bid team

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The Independent Online

Ray Ranson, the former footballer who is bidding for Aston Villa, is understood to be preparing to bring in a former chief executive of the club to run the business if his takeover offer is successful.

Ray Ranson, the former footballer who is bidding for Aston Villa, is understood to be preparing to bring in a former chief executive of the club to run the business if his takeover offer is successful.

Mr Ranson is thought to be keen to persuade Mark Ansell to return to Villa, just months after he was forced out after a disagreement with Doug Ellis, the Villa chairman and 38 per cent shareholder.

Mr Ansell would bring a wealth of experience to Mr Ranson's bidding partnership, which also includes Richard Thompson, the former chairman of Queen's Park Rangers.

Mr Ansell yesterday refused to be drawn on whether talks had been held with the bidding consortium. However he launched an outspoken attack on Mr Ellis, who has taken on the chief executive's role after Mr Ansell's departure. Mr Ellis will play a key role in determining what value is placed on the club and assessing proposals from putative bidders.

It is understood that Mr Ranson's bidding consortium believes there is a potential conflict of interest, with Mr Ellis's interests as a 38 per cent shareholder not necessarily being in line with those of the remaining 62 per cent of the company.

Mr Ansell said: "The reason I left was because I thought we needed to accelerate the change of ownership at the club. He [Mr Ellis] owns 38 per cent. We had to look after 100 per cent of shareholders, and the club and the key stakeholders."

Last night a spokesman for Villa said the board contained three non-executive directors, including Tony Hales, the former Allied Domecq chief executive. The spokesman said it was their duty to assess offers independently and vote against Mr Ellis if necessary when deciding whether to accept or reject offers for the business.

Last week the club said it had received an indicative proposal from certain parties, including Mr Ranson. It said the board's view was that it significantly undervalued the business. However, Mr Ranson's next step will probably be to demand that the board spell out its view on the valuation and explain in more detail why his £33m offer has been rebuffed.

The Midlands club has a significant amount of undeveloped land that could be worth £40m, according to some analysts.

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