Ellis defiant over lack of support

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The Independent Football

Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis, who has built a formidable reputation on wielding the managerial axe, had the tables turned on him yesterday, failing to win the required support at the shareholders' annual general meeting.

Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis, who has built a formidable reputation on wielding the managerial axe, had the tables turned on him yesterday, failing to win the required support at the shareholders' annual general meeting.

Ellis not only failed to get the necessary show of hands to be automatically re-elected as a director of the Premiership club, but was also jeered at the meeting attended by around 200 shareholders.

It was a demonstration of the growing unrest among Villa fans towards Ellis, who also came in for a tough time from supporters at a forum on Thursday. Ellis said: "There is no question of resignation. We operate democratically. The share-holders must have their say. I am never complacent.

"I am passionate to see the club get into Europe and will do everything in my power to assist the manager in that regard. These people have short memories. I don't kick the ball or pick the players. The manager has spent £52m on players and £32m has come in. That's £20m the wrong way."

Villa showed a loss of nearly £4m last year and shares have halved in value in the last 12 months. Despite this Ellis's re-election via a card vote is a formality as he is the club's major shareholder - and his family alone have one third of the shares in issue, which makes the 76-year-old even more determined to carry on, insisting that the club did not lack ambition, even though a succession of players including Ugo Ehiogu and transfer-listed skipper Gareth Southgate have questioned that.

France and Juventus playmaker Zinedine Zidane has signed an extension to his contract with the Italian club until the end of the 2004-05 season. Juventus open their Champions' League campaign at Hamburg on Wednesday.

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