Aston Villa F.C.

Aston Villa F.C.

Infobox Football club
clubname = Aston Villa F.C.
current = Aston Villa F.C. season 2008-09

fullname = Aston Villa Football Club
nickname = The Villa, The Villans, Villacite web |url= |title=Premiership club-by-club guide |publisher=BBC |accessdate=2008-04-09] The Lions
founded = 1874 [cite web |url=|title=Aston Villa Football Club information |publisher=BBC|accessdate=2007-06-26]
ground = Villa Park
Birmingham B6 6HE England
capacity = 42,640 [cite news|url= |title=Aston Villa football club |publisher=Premier League|accessdate=2008-09-15]
chairman = flagicon|United States Randy Lerner
manager = flagicon|Northern Ireland Martin O'Neill
league = Premier League
season = 2007–08
position = Premier League, 6th

Aston Villa Football Club (also known as "The Villa", "Villa" and "The Villans") is an English professional football club based in Aston, Birmingham, who currently play in the Premier League. The club was founded in 1874 and have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were founding members of The Football League in 1888 and the Premier League in 1992. The club was floated by the previous owner and chairman Doug Ellis, but in 2006 full control of the club was acquired by Randy Lerner.

They are one of the oldest and most successful football clubs in England, having won the First Division Championship seven times and the FA Cup seven times. Villa also won the 1981–82 European Cup, one of only four English clubs to win what is now the UEFA Champions League. [cite news |url=,,10265~676380,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265~676380,00.html |archivedate=2007-12-24 |title=European Cup Win |publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15] Aston Villa is the fourth most successful club in English football history, having won 20 major honours,cite web |url=| title= All-time English League Table| publisher=Everton Supporters Website |accessdate=2008-09-15] although many of these were won before the Second World War and the most recent was in 1996.

They have a long-standing and fierce rivalry with local rivals Birmingham City, although West Bromwich Albion is actually the closest professional football club. The Birmingham derby between Aston Villa and Birmingham City has been played since 1879.cite news|url=|title=Aston Villa V Birmingham City|publisher=Football Derbies|accessdate=2008-09-15] The club's traditional kit colours are claret shirts with sky blue sleeves, white shorts and sky blue socks. Their traditional crest is of a rampant gold lion on a light blue background with the club's motto "Prepared" underneath; a modified version of this was adopted in 2007.


Aston Villa Football Club were formed in March, 1874, by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Aston which is now part of Birmingham. The four founders of Aston Villa were Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price and William Scattergood.cite web |url=,,10265~422987,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265~422987,00.html |archivedate=2007-10-29 |title=Villa History 1874–1887 |publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15] Aston Villa's first match was against the local Aston Brook St Mary's Rugby team. As a condition of the match, the Villa side had to agree to play the first half under rugby rules and the second half under football rules. [Ward, Adam; Griffin, Jeremy; p.6] Villa quickly became one of the best teams in the Midlands, winning their first honour, the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1880, under the captaincy of Scotsman George Ramsay.cite web |url=,,10265,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265,00.html |archivedate=2007-10-15|title=Aston Villa Hall of Fame |publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15]

The club won its first FA Cup in 1887 with captain Archie Hunter becoming one of the game's first household names. Aston Villa were one of the dozen teams that competed in the inaugural Football League in 1888 with one of the club's directors, William McGregor being the league's founder. Aston Villa emerged as the most successful English club of the Victorian era, with numerous League titles and FA Cup wins.cite web |url=,,10265~423093,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265~423093,00.html |archivedate=2007-08-12 |title=Villa History 1888–1899 |publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15] In 1897, the year Villa won The Double, they moved into their present home, the Aston Lower Grounds. [Ward, Adam; Griffin, Jeremy; pp.33–36] Supporters coined the name "Villa Park"; no official declaration listed the ground as Villa Park. [Hayes, Dean; p.170]

Aston Villa won their sixth FA Cup in 1920, soon after though the club began a slow decline that led to Villa, at the time one of the most famous and successful clubs in world football, being relegated in 1936 for the first time to the Second Division. This was largely the result of a dismal defensive record: they conceded 110 goals, 7 of them coming from Arsenal's Ted Drake in an infamous 1–7 defeat at Villa Park. [cite news|url=|archiveurl=|archivedate=2007-11-13|title=Arsenal Facts||accessdate=2008-09-15] Like all English clubs, Villa lost seven seasons to the Second World War, and that conflict brought several careers to a premature end.cite web |url=,,10265~423103,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265~423103,00.html |archivedate=2007-11-10 |title=Villa History 1900–1939 |publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15] The team was rebuilt under the guidance of former player Alex Massie for the remainder of the 1940s. Aston Villa's first trophy for 37 years came in the 1956–57 season which included an unexpected FA Cup run that would culminate in them defeating the 'Busby Babes' of Manchester United in the final. The team were relegated though two seasons later, in 1958–59, and a complacency had set in at Villa Park. This was soon overcome as Villa returned to the top flight in 1960 as Second Division Champions and the following season Villa won the inaugural League Cup.cite web |url=,,10265~423136,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265~423136,00.html |archivedate=2007-11-01 |title=Villa History 1945–1967 |publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15] The late 1960s brought a period of turmoil at the club with fan pressure leading to a takeover and managerial changes. This started with Villa being relegated for the third time, under manager Dick Taylor in 1967. The following season the fans called for the board to resign as Villa finished 16th in the Second Division. With mounting debts and Villa lying at the bottom of Division Two, the board sacked Cummings (the manager brought in to replace Taylor), and within weeks the entire board resigned under overwhelming pressure from fans. After much speculation, control of the club was bought by London financier Pat Matthews, who also brought in Doug Ellis as chairman. However, new ownership could not prevent Villa being relegated to the Third Division for the first time at the end of the 1969–70 season. In the 1971–72 season they returned to the Second Division as Champions with a record 70 points. In 1973 Ron Saunders was appointed manager and by 1977 he had taken them back into the First Division and Europe.cite web |url=,,10265~423145,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265~423145,00.html |archivedate=2007-10-26 |title=Villa History 1967–1986 |publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15]

Villa were back amongst the elite and enjoyed much success under Saunders, winning the league in the 1980–81 season. To the surprise of commentators and fans, Saunders quit halfway through the 1981–82 season, after falling out with the chairman, with Villa in the quarter final of the European Cup. He was replaced by his softly-spoken assistant manager Tony Barton who guided them to 1–0 victory over Bayern Munich in the European Cup final in Rotterdam. Villa remain to this day one of only four English teams to have won the European Cup, along with Liverpool, Manchester United and Nottingham Forest. [cite web |url= |title=1981–82 season European campaigns |publisher=UEFA |accessdate=2008-09-15] This marked a pinnacle though and Villa declined for most of the 1980s, culminating in relegation in 1987. This was followed by promotion the following year and second place in the football League in 1989.cite web |url=,,10265~423155,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265~423155,00.html |archivedate=2007-12-22 |title=Villa History 1986–2006|publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15]

Villa were one of the founding members of the Premier League in 1992, and finished runners-up to Manchester United in the inaugural season. In the rest of the nineties however Villa went through three different managers and their league positions were inconsistent, although they did win two League Cups. Villa reached the FA Cup final in 2000 (for the first time since 1957) but lost 1–0 to Chelsea in the last game to be played at the old Wembley Stadium.cite web |url= |title=FA Cup history |publisher=Football Association (FA) |accessdate=2008-09-15] Once again Villa's league position fluctuated under several different managers and things came to a head in the summer of 2006 when David O'Leary left in acrimony. [cite news |url= |title=David O leary parts ways with Villa |publisher=BBC |accessdate=2008-09-15] Martin O'Neill soon arrived to a jubilant reception. After 23 years as chairman and single biggest shareholder (approximately 38%), Doug Ellis finally decided to sell his stake in Aston Villa to American Businessman Randy Lerner, the owner of NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns. [cite news |url= |title=Lerner set to complete Villa deal |publisher=BBC Sport |date=2006-09-27 |accessdate=2008-09-15] The arrival of a new owner and manager marked the start of a new period of optimism at Villa Park and sweeping changes occurred throughout the club including a new crest, a new kit sponsor and team changes in the summer of 2007. [cite news|url=|title=Villa secure new kit deal with Nike|publisher=ESPNsoccernet|date=2007-02-07|accessdate=2008-09-15]

Club colours & crest

Football kit box
align = right
pattern_la =
pattern_b = _lightbluehalf
pattern_ra =
leftarm = 7B3F00
body = 7B3F00
rightarm = 00BFFF
shorts = FFFFFF
socks = 464646
title =
Villa's proposed kit of 1886cite web|url=|title=Villa Kit History|publisher=Historical|accessdate=2008-09-15]
The club colours are claret shirt with sky blue sleeves, white shorts with claret and blue trim, and sky blue socks with claret and white trim. Villa's colours at the outset generally comprised plain shirts (white, grey or a shade of blue), with either white or black shorts. For a few years after that (1877–79) the team wore several different kits from all white, blue and black, red and blue to plain green. By 1880, black jerseys with a red lion embroidered on the chest were introduced by William McGregor. This remained the first choice strip for six years. On Monday, 8 November 1886, an entry in the club's official minute book states: cquote|(i) Proposed and seconded that the colours be chocolate and sky blue shirts and that we order two dozen. (ii) Proposed and seconded that Mr McGregor be requested to supply them at the lowest quotation.The chocolate colour later became claret.

Nobody is quite sure why claret and blue became the club's adopted colours. The main theory surrounding the colours suggests that with the Scottish influence of characters such as George Ramsay and William McGregor the kit was created from the combination of the maroon of Hearts and the blue of Rangers, with the Scottish lion rampant included in the badge. The kit for the 2007–2008 season will be manufactured by Nike. [cite news|url=|title=Villa sign Kit deal with Nike|publisher=eufootball|accessdate=2008-09-15] Aston Villa's success inspired some other clubs to adopt claret as their home colours, most notably Burnley and West Ham United.

A new crest was revealed on 2 May 2007, for the 2007–08 season and beyond. The new crest includes a star to represent the European Cup win in 1982, and has a light blue background behind Villa's 'lion rampant'. The traditional motto "Prepared" remains in the crest, and the name Aston Villa has been shortened to AVFC, FC having been omitted from the previous crest. Randy Lerner petitioned fans to help with the design of the new crest.cite web|url=,,10265,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265,00.html |archivedate=2007-10-11 |title=New Crest|publisher=Aston Villa F.C.|date=2007-05-02|accessdate=2008-09-15] The three kits that carry the new crest were unveiled on 17 July 2007, in The Mailbox, Birmingham. [cite web |url=,,10265~1074481,00.html |archiveurl=,,10265~1074481,00.html |archivedate=2007-12-24|title=Kit launch 2007 |publisher=Aston Villa F.C. |accessdate=2008-09-15] On 2 June 2008 it was announced that Aston Villa will forgo commercial kit sponsorship for the 2008–09 season; instead they will advertise the charity Acorns Children's Hospice, the first deal of its kind in Premiership history. [cite news |url= |title=Aston Villa to promote charity in place of shirt sponsor |date=2008-06-03 |publisher=The Guardian |accessdate=2008-06-03]


Aston Villa's current home venue is Villa Park, which is a UEFA 4-star rated stadium, having previously played at Aston Park (1874–1876) and Perry Barr (1876–1897). Villa Park is currently the largest football stadium in the Midlands, and the eighth largest stadium in England. It has hosted 16 England internationals at senior level, the first in 1899, and the most recent in 2005. Thus it was the first English ground to stage international football in three different centuries.cite web| url=| title=England international matches at Villa Park |publisher=FA|accessdate=2008-09-15] Villa Park is the most used stadium in FA Cup semi-final history, having hosted 55 semi-finals. The Club have planning permission to extend the North Stand; This will involve the 'filling in' of the corners to either side of the North Stand. If completed, the capacity of Villa Park will be increased to approximately 51,000.The current training ground is located at Bodymoor Heath in north Warwickshire, the site for which was purchased by former Aston Villa Chairman Doug Ellis in the early 1970s from a local farmer. Although Bodymoor Heath was state-of-the-art in the 1970s, by the late 1990s the facilities had started to look dated. In November 2005, Ellis and Aston Villa plc announced a state of the art GB£13 million redevelopment of Bodymoor in 2 phases. However, work on Bodymoor was suspended by Ellis due to financial problems, and was left in an unfinished state until new owner Randy Lerner made it one of his priorities to make the site one of the best in world football. The new training ground was officially unveiled on 6 May 2007, by current manager Martin O'Neill, former team captain Gareth Barry and 1982 European Cup winning team captain Dennis Mortimer, with the Aston Villa squad moving in for the 2007–08 season. [cite news|url=,,10265~1021732,00.html|archiveurl=,,10265~1021732,00.html|archivedate=2007-08-25|title=O'Neill "New Facilities are second to none" |publisher=Aston Villa F.C.|accessdate=2008-09-15]

Club ownership

The first shares in the club were issued towards the end of the 19th century as a result of legislation that was intended to codify the growing numbers of professional teams and players in the Association Football leagues. FA teams were required to distribute shares to investors as a way of facilitating trading amongst the teams without implicating the FA itself. This trading continued for much of the 20th century until Doug Ellis started buying up many of the shares in the 1960s. He was the chairman and substantial shareholder of "Aston Villa F.C." from 1968–1975 and the majority shareholder from 1982–2006. The club was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1996, and the share price fluctuated in the ten years after the flotation. [cite web |url= |title=Financial history of Aston Villa | |accessdate=2008-09-15] In 2006 it was announced that several consortia and individuals were considering bids for Aston Villa.

On 14 August 2006, it was confirmed that Randy Lerner, owner of the Cleveland Browns and native Ohioan had reached an agreement of GB£62.6 million with Aston Villa for a takeover of the club. A statement released on 25 August to the LSE announced that Lerner had secured 59.69% of Villa shares, making him the majority shareholder. He also appointed himself Chairman of the club. [cite web |url=,,1855979,00.html |title= Editorial on Doug Ellis's Reign |publisher=David Conn, The Guardian |date=2006-08-23 |accessdate=2007-06-26] In Ellis's last year in charge Villa lost GB£8.2m before tax, compared with a GB£3m profit the previous year, and income had fallen from GB£51.6m to GB£49m.cite web |url= | title=End of Ellis era |publisher=BBC |date=2006-09-19 |accessdate=2008-09-15] Randy Lerner took full control on 18 September as he had 89.69% of the share. On 19 September 2006, Aston Villa plc executive Chairman Doug Ellis and his board resigned to be replaced with a new board headed by Lerner.

Board Officials


:A. Up until 1992, the top division of English football was the Football League First Division. The Premier League took over from the First Division as the top tier of the English football league system upon its formation in 1992. The First Division then became the second tier of English football, the Second Division became the third tier, and so on. The First Division is now known as the Football League Championship, while the Second Division is now known as Football League One.:B Saunders was never a player for Aston Villa; he was the manager from 1974 to 1982.:C Win% is rounded to two decimal places


*cite book |title=Villains: The Inside Story of Aston Villa's Hooligan Gangs |last=Brown |first=Danny |coauthors=Milo Brittle |publisher=Milo Books |year=2006 |isbn=978-1903854594
*cite book |title=Aston Villa—A Complete Record 1874–1988 | last=Goodyear |first=David |coauthors=Matthews, Tony |publisher=Breedon Books |year=1988 |isbn=0907969372
*cite book |last=Hayes |first=Dean |title=The Villa Park Encyclopedia: A-Z of Aston Villa |publisher=Mainstream Publishing (2 October 1997) |isbn=978-1851589593
*cite book |last=Ward |first=Adam |coauthors=Griffin, Jeremy |title=The essential history of Aston Villa |publisher=Headline book publishing (2002) |isbn=075531140X

External links

* [ Official Aston Villa website]
* [ Aston Villa Ladies website]
* [ Aston Villa BBC]
* [ Aston Villa fansite with history and appearance records]
* [ Comprehensive Aston Villa Player database]
* [ Virtual tours of Villa Park]
* [ Aston Villa Statistics]

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