European Football: Demise of Daley deal upsets Villa: Phil Shaw on a double dose of bad luck for Doug Ellis

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The Independent Online
THE COLLAPSE yesterday of Tony Daley's projected move to Italy - in the aftermath of their abject Uefa Cup exit at home to Deportivo La Coruna - completed a costly 24 hours for Aston Villa.

The Daley transfer, called off when Udinese switched their sights to an unspecified Danish international, would have earned Villa pounds 2m. Since they had also calculated that prolonged involvement in Europe would raise a further pounds 3m, Villa's loss could amount to as much as pounds 5m.

'We're led to believe the Daley deal is off,' Ron Atkinson said. 'Udinese came back and offered us a loan option with a nominal fee involved, but we weren't interested.' The enigmatic winger, who has been at Villa since leaving school, was 'disappointed' but remains transfer-listed and still hopes to play abroad.

Deprived of his Daley bread, Doug Ellis, the Villa chairman, was also reeling from the financial implications of defeat by the Spaniards. 'The next round could have brought in pounds 750,000 and if we'd gone to reach the final, we'd have been looking at a possible income of pounds 3m from receipts, TV rights and so on. It's a hell of a blow. I was looking forward to paying half the cost of the Holte End redevelopment from European revenue. That will now have to come from elsewhere.'

The prospect of its coming out of the transfer budget did not unduly concern Atkinson, who claimed he was not currently pursuing anyone in particular. 'We have enough good players here to do the job,' he said, in sharp contrast with his anger over 'a very poor advert for English football' immediately after Deportivo's win.

Villa are, after all, joint second in the Premiership and had won their previous three games, so Atkinson may be prepared to regard a horror show against skilful, organised opponents as a one-off. But with Neil Cox and Garry Parker also seeking transfers, Nigel Spink reluctant to play second fiddle to Mark Bosnich and Steve Staunton out for a further six weeks, circumstances may yet force him back into the market.