Villa squad attack Ellis for lack of ambition

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The Independent Online

Aston Villa players have questioned the ambition of their chairman, Doug Ellis, after a series of financial cutbacks.

The first-team squad issued a joint statement voicing their concerns at the stance being taken by Ellis, who put the club up for sale last October. Attempts to find a buyer have floundered and the players are unhappy at the extent to which Ellis has tightened the purse strings.

"People talk about Aston Villa being a big club and winning the European Cup in 1982," the statement read. "We feel it should be a big club but if the chairman has got ambition, he needs to start showing it. It has to come from the top.

"So many other clubs are doing so much to show their ambition apart from us. As players we're all ambitious and we want to improve on last season. The chairman should be behind the club and not working against what we're trying to achieve. There have been a series of cutbacks and we feel we have to mention this because they are now starting to affect us.

"At the end of last season, the chairman refused to pay £300 for the pitches to be watered. The training ground development, which we were all looking forward to working in, has stopped.

"Now we have lost a masseur because the club refuse to pay for one and are clubbing together to pay for our own.

"We've had no explanation for the cutbacks and we feel if the manager [David O'Leary] can't get one, then we have no chance.

"Maybe the chairman thought he would have left by now because of the takeover. Supporters are concerned with what happens on the pitch and rightly so.

"But we feel with all the cutbacks, it is difficult to attain the targets we all share. In the second half of last season, there was no investment in the team, a loan player - Eirik Bakke - was sent back to Leeds, and now we're unable to sign James Milner from Newcastle.

"There are no positives coming out of the club. We need to see a plan where the club is going and all the players feel the same. Every penny is being watched."

* The Dutch club Den Haag have signed the former Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Stefan Postma on a free transfer. Postma, 28, has signed a contract for two years.

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