Aston Villa F.C.

  (Redirected from Aston Villa)

Aston Villa Football Club is a professional football club based in Aston, Birmingham, England. The club competes in the Premier League, the top tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888 and of the Premier League in 1992.[3] Villa are one of the five English clubs to have won the European Cup, in 1981–82. They have also won the Football League First Division seven times, the FA Cup seven times, the League Cup five times, and the European (UEFA) Super Cup once. The club are currently ranked 5th in the all-time English top flight table, since its creation in 1888.[4]

Aston Villa
Aston Villa FC crest (2016).svg
Full nameAston Villa Football Club
Nickname(s)The Villans
The Lions
The Claret & Blue Army
Short nameVilla, AVFC
Founded1874; 148 years ago (1874)
GroundVilla Park
Capacity42,749[1]
Owner(s)Nassef Sawiris
Wes Edens
ChairmanNassef Sawiris[2]
Head coachSteven Gerrard
LeaguePremier League
2021–22Premier League, 14th of 20
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Villa have a fierce local rivalry with Birmingham City and the Second City derby between the teams has been played since 1879.[5] The club's traditional kit colours are claret shirts with sky blue sleeves, white shorts and sky blue socks. Their traditional club badge is of a rampant lion.[6][7] The club is currently owned by the NSWE group, a company owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and the American billionaire Wes Edens.

History

Formation and Rise to Prominence (1874−1886)

 
George Ramsay's trophy haul of six League Championships and six FA Cups established Aston Villa as the most successful club in England. He has been described as the world's first paid football manager.
 
The Aston Villa team of 1899 that won the First Division and Sheriff of London Charity Shield (shared with Queen's Park) as well as a number of county cup honours.

Aston Villa Football Club were formed in March 1874, by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Handsworth which is now part of Birmingham. The four founders of Aston Villa were Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price and William Scattergood, who were members of the chapel's cricket team looking for a way to stay fit during the winter months.[8] Due to the lack of local football teams 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 Association rules, the Villa won their first game 1-0.[9]

The infant club's fortunes changed forever when a young Scotsman called George Ramsay stumbled across the Villa players' practice match in Aston Park in 1876. He was asked to make up the numbers and they were amazed by his skills, they had never seen such a display of close ball control before. When the game was over, the Villa players surrounded him and invited him to join the club, and very soon he became captain.[10] Ramsay later described the newly formed club's approach to the game as 'a dash at the man and a big kick at the ball'.[11] Word spread about how fine a player Ramsay was, spectators began turning up to watch the little man nicknamed ‘Scotty’. He also took charge of training which saw dramatic improvement that showed in the results, introducing what was known as the "passing game". This had become the main style of play in Scotland whereas in England most teams relied on what was known as the "dribbling game".[12]

Villa began to establish themselves as one of the best teams in the Midlands, winning their first honour, the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1880. The club would go on to lift the trophy 9 times in the next 12 seasons.[13]

Victorian & Edwardian Golden Age (1886-1914)

Following the professionalisation of football in 1885, the club decided that it needed a full-time paid manager. The following advert was placed in the Birmingham Daily Gazette newspaper in June 1886:

 
The Aston Villa Double winning team of 1896–97 with the First Division Championship and the FA Cup

'Wanted: manager for Aston Villa Football Club, who will be required to devote his whole time under direction of the committee. Salary £100 per annum. Applications with reference must be made not later than June 23rd to Chairman of the Committee, Aston Villa Club House, 6 Witton Road, Aston’

Villa received 150 applicants for the role, but with his strong association with the club George Ramsay was the overwhelming choice of the membership. Thus on 26th June 1886, Aston Villa appointed what has been described as the world's first football manager.[14]

The following season Aston Villa rose to national prominence, winning their first FA Cup in 1887 with captain Archie Hunter becoming one of the game's first household names, being the first player to score in every round of the FA Cup. 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.

 
Harry Hampton scores one of his two goals in the 1905 FA Cup Final

Despite Villa founding the league, by 1893 they had yet to win it. Villa Committee Member Frederick Rinder was the instigator of a club meeting at Barwick Street in February 1893 that removed the committee running the club at the time. All fourteen committee members resigned and were replaced by a committee of five led by Rinder after he gave a rousing speech criticising the board's tolerance of ill discipline and players' drinking. On the pitch, manager George Ramsay was moulding a team that became renowned for its short, quick passing style of play which saw Villa win its first league title in 1893–94; the season after that the club won its second FA Cup in 1894-95. This was followed by back-to-back League titles in 1895–96 and 1896–97.

Aston Villa emerged as the most successful English club of the Victorian era, winning no fewer than five League titles and three FA Cups by the end of Queen Victoria's reign in 1901.[15] Villa's captain during this era was Birmingham-born John Devey. In 1897, the year Villa won The Double, they moved into their present home, the Aston Lower Grounds.[16] Supporters coined the name "Villa Park"; no official declaration listed the ground as Villa Park.[17]

Success continued into the Edwardian era, with Villa lifting the FA Cup for the fourth time in 1904–05, and a sixth league title in 1909–10. A further FA Cup triumph was achieved on the eve of the First World War in 1913. Star-players during this era included Howard Spencer, Joe Bache and Harry Hampton.

Relative Decline & First Relegation (1920–1939)

 
A one-club man, Billy Walker made 531 appearances for Villa between 1920 and 1934, scoring 244 goals. He is Aston Villa's all-time top goalscorer.

In January 1920, Billy Walker scored twice on his Villa debut in a 2–1 FA Cup first-round win over Queens Park Rangers; the club won the FA Cup for the sixth time that season and Walker went on to establish himself as Villa's star player of the 1920s, scoring a record 244 goals in 531 appearances, captaining Villa and England. George Ramsay retired in 1926, at the age of 71, his replacement Billy Smith was unable to continue Ramsay's success, in reality several other football clubs had caught up with Aston Villa, although the club did finish runners-up in the league twice under Smith's guidance, with 128 goals scored in the 1930–31 season, which remains the all-time top-flight record to the present day. A remarkable 49 of the league goals that season were scored by centre-forward Tom 'Pongo' Waring, with another 30 goals from winger Eric Houghton.

Villa struggled in the 1935–36 season, largely due to a dismal defensive record: they conceded 110 goals in 42 games, 7 of them coming from Arsenal's Ted Drake in an infamous 1–7 defeat at Villa Park.[18] The club made seven signings and spent a staggering sum for the time of £35,500 trying to retain top-flight status at all costs, but were unable to buy their way out of trouble. Aston Villa, at the time one of the most famous and successful clubs in world football, was relegated in 1936 for the first time in its history.

Following relegation to the Second Division, the Villa board brought back the ageing former club chairman Frederick Rinder, who was vocal in his criticism of the board for its "almost total neglect of the reserve team, instead relying on paying big fees for ready made players". He believed that this change in policy from scouting and developing young homegrown talent led to a decline in the club's culture and style of play, which alongside a tolerance of ill-discipline in the players led to Villa's relegation. Rinder's first act was to travel to Austria to recruit the progressive coach Jimmy Hogan as manager. Within two seasons, Hogan had guided Villa back to the top flight as Second Division champions.

Rebuilding (1945-1961)

Like all English clubs, Villa lost seven seasons to the Second World War, and that conflict brought several careers to a premature end.[19] 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 when another former Villa player, Eric Houghton led the club to a then record seventh FA Cup Final win, defeating the 'Busby Babes' of Manchester United 2-1 with Northern Irish winger Peter McParland scoring both goals.[20] The team struggled in the league though and were relegated two seasons later, due in large part to complacency. However, under the stewardship of manager Joe Mercer Villa returned to the top-flight in 1960 as Second Division Champions with a talented young side which became known as 'Mercer's Minors'. The following season Aston Villa became the first team to win the Football League Cup with England centre-forward Gerry Hitchens scoring an impressive 42 goals in 1960-61 .[21]

Deep Malaise and Revival (1961–1974)

 
Aston Villa captain Dennis Mortimer lifted the European Cup in 1982.

Mercer's forced retirement from the club in 1964, following a stress-induced stroke, signalled a period of deep turmoil and malaise. The most successful club in England had failed to keep pace with changes in the modern game; three of the five-man board of directors were over 70 years old, the club had neglected its scouting network and coaching structure and the club's finances were in a parlous state. This led to the club selling its top striker Tony Hateley to Chelsea for £100,000 in October 1966, without his goals Villa were relegated for the third time in its history, 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 Tommy Cummings (the manager brought in to replace Taylor), and within weeks the entire board resigned under overwhelming pressure from fans.[22] After much speculation, control of the club was bought by London financier Pat Matthews, who brought in Doug Ellis as chairman.[22] Doug Ellis's first managerial appointment was Tommy Docherty, who after initial success was sacked after 13 months in charge with the club at the foot of Second Division. His replacement was former club captain Vic Crowe, who could not prevent Villa being relegated to the Third Division for the first time in its history at the end of the 1969–70 season.

The following season Villa surprised everyone by reaching the 1971 League Cup Final, being defeated by two late Tottenham Hotspur goals. In the 1971–72 season they returned to the Second Division as champions with average attendances over 40,000 and a record 70 points.[23]

Back Among the Elite (1974 - 1992)

Following a 14th place finish in the Second Division, Crowe was replaced in August 1974 by Ron Saunders. He was a fitness fanatic, whose brand of no-nonsense man-management proved effective, with the club winning the League Cup the following season and, by the end of season 1974–75, he had taken Aston Villa back into the First Division and into Europe.[24]

 
The 1982 European Cup winning squad celebrate the 25th anniversary of their win.

Villa were back among the elite as Saunders continued to mould a winning team, winning a further League Cup in 1976–77, with the formidable strike partnership of Brian Little and Andy Gray, who became the first player to win both the PFA Young Player of the Year and PFA Players' Player of the Year in the same season.

Villa achieved a seventh top-flight league title in 1980–81, with players such as Gordon Cowans, Tony Morley and captain Dennis Mortimer leading the club to its first top-flight title in 71 years. To the surprise of commentators and fans, Ron 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 the club to a 1–0 victory over Bayern Munich in the European Cup final in Rotterdam courtesy of a Peter Withe goal. The following season Villa were crowned European Super Cup winners, beating Barcelona 3–1 on aggregate. This marked a pinnacle though and Villa's fortunes declined sharply for most of the 1980s, due to financial mismanagement Saunders' team was broken up, culminating in relegation in 1987, just five years after being crowned European champions.[25] However, Villa bounced back quickly, achieving promotion the following year under Graham Taylor and a runners-up position in the top-flight in the 1989–90 season.[26]

24 years in the Premier League (1992–2016)

Villa were one of the founding members of the Premier League in 1992, becoming one of just three clubs to have been founding members of both the Football League in 1888 and the Premier League, along with Blackburn Rovers and Everton. Villa finished runners-up to Manchester United in the inaugural season under the charismatic manager Ron Atkinson. His side lifted the League Cup in 1994, beating Manchester United 3-1 in the final, but the team struggled for form in the league and Atkinson was replaced by former Villa striker Brian Little in November 1994. Little assembled a young side which included players as Gareth Southgate, Ian Taylor and Dwight Yorke, leading the club to a fifth League Cup triumph in 1996, beating Leeds United 3-0 at Wembley. Villa finished fourth in the league that season, and fifth the season after, but following a dip in form, Doug Ellis sacked Brian Little and replaced him with another former Villa player John Gregory in February 1998. Gregory managed four top-eight finishes in the league and took the club to an FA Cup final in 2000 but was unable to assemble a team capable of challenging for Champions League places. His frustration at the lack of investment in the team led to him publicly accusing the chairman Doug Ellis of being "stuck a time warp"; their relationship remained strained until Gregory resigned in January 2002.[27][28] Ellis appointed Graham Taylor for a second spell in February 2002, but a 16th place finish in the league led to his replacement with David O'Leary in June 2003. After a sixth place finish in his first season, Villa slid backwards to 10th and 16th place finishes under O'Leary, culminating in him leaving in the summer of 2006.[29]

 
Gareth Barry is Villa's record appearance holder in the Premier League.

After 23 years as chairman and single biggest shareholder (approximately 38%), Doug Ellis finally decided to sell his stake in Aston Villa due to ill-health. After much speculation it was announced the club was to be bought by American businessman Randy Lerner, owner of NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns.[30] The arrival of a new owner in Lerner and of manager Martin O'Neill marked the start of a new period of optimism at Villa Park and sweeping changes occurred throughout the club including a new badge, investment in state-of-the-art facilities at the Bodymoor Heath Training Ground and significant investment in the squad in the summer of 2007.[31][32] The first Cup final of the Lerner era came in 2010 when Villa were beaten 2–1 in the League Cup Final.[33] Just five days before the opening day of the 2010–11 season, O'Neill resigned as manager, despite three consecutive 6th place finishes, due to frustration in the lack of investment in the squad, following the sale of star players Gareth Barry, James Milner and Ashley Young.[34] His replacement Gérard Houllier stepped down due to ill-health in September 2011, to be replaced by Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish, despite howls of protest from fans against his appointment.[35] McLeish's contract was terminated at the end of the 2011–12 season after Villa finished in 16th place,[36] and he was replaced by Paul Lambert.[37]

In February 2012, the club announced a financial loss of £53.9 million,[38] and Lerner put the club up for sale three months later.[39] With Lerner still on board, but unwilling to spend following the stock market crash of 2008, the club was uncompetitive for several seasons, culminating in the 2014–15 season, when Lambert was sacked in February 2015 after the team managed just 12 goals in the first 25 league games, the lowest in Premier League history.[40] Tim Sherwood succeeded him,[41] and steered the club away from relegation while also leading them to the 2015 FA Cup Final. However, the club sold two of its star players Christian Benteke and captain Fabian Delph in the summer transfer window and did not adequately replace them. Villa struggled in the 2015–16 season, and Sherwood was sacked following six consecutive defeats.[42] He was replaced by Rémi Garde, a French manager with no Premier League experience. He left after five months with Villa lying at the bottom of the table; his reign included a woeful club-record 19 game winless run. The club was relegated at the end of the season, ending their 29-year stay in the top flight.[43]

Takeovers, Championship years and promotion (2016–present)

In June 2016, Chinese businessman Tony Xia bought the club for £76 million.[44] Former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo was appointed as the club's new manager, but was sacked after just 12 games following a poor start to the season.[45] He was replaced by former Birmingham manager Steve Bruce.[46] Bruce led the team to finish fourth in the 17/18 season, but lost in the 2018 EFL Championship play-off Final to Fulham.

After failing to secure promotion to the Premier League in the 2017–18 season, owner Tony Xia sought additional outside investment in the club. On 20 July 2018 it was announced that the NSWE group, an Egyptian company owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and the American billionaire Wes Edens were to invest in the football club. They purchased a controlling 55% stake in the club and Sawiris took over the role of club chairman.[47]

In October 2018, Bruce was sacked after winning only once in a nine match stretch.[48] He was replaced by Brentford manager and boyhood Villa fan Dean Smith, with former captain John Terry and Richard O'Kelly as his assistants.[49][50] Under Smith performances and results improved, with the team finishing fifth and reaching the playoffs again—helped on by a club-record 10 league game winning streak. They reached the 2019 EFL Championship play-off Final and defeated Derby County 2–1 to gain promotion back to the Premier League after a three-year absence.[51]

On the eve of Villa's Premier League return, Recon Group's minority share ownership was bought out by NSWE, meaning Xia no longer had any stake in the club.[52] In Villa's first season back in the Premier League the team battled relegation for most of the season but managed to avoid it with a 17th-place finish, staying up on the final day.[53] In Villa's second season back in the Premier League, Smith oversaw an 11th placed finish, but was unable to persuade star player and captain Jack Grealish to remain at the club when Manchester City's British-record £100 million bid triggered his release clause. Following a poor start to the 2021-22 season, which saw seven losses in the club's opening 11 games, Dean Smith was dismissed.[54]

Aston Villa appointed former England captain Steven Gerrard as head coach on 11 November 2021.[55]

Colours and badge

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Villa's proposed kit of 1886[56]

The club colours are a claret shirt with sky blue sleeves, white shorts with claret and blue trim, and sky blue socks with claret and white trim. They were the original wearers of the claret and blue. 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 Scottish Lion Rampant embroidered on the chest were introduced by Villa's Scottish leaders William McGregor and George Ramsay. This remained the first choice strip for six years. On Monday, 8 November 1886, an entry in the club's official minute book states:

(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.[56] Nobody is quite sure why claret and blue became the club's adopted colours.[56] Several other football teams adopted their distinctive colours including West Ham United, Burnley, Scunthorpe United and Turkish club Trabzonspor.[57][58] Crystal Palace also played in Villa's colours until the 1970s.

A new badge was revealed in May 2007, for the 2007–08 season and beyond. The new badge 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 badge, and the name Aston Villa has been shortened to AVFC, FC having been omitted from the previous badge. The lion is now unified as opposed to fragmented lions of the past. Randy Lerner petitioned fans to help with the design of the new badge.[31]

On 6 April 2016, the club confirmed that it would be using a new badge from the 2016–17 season after consulting fan groups for suggestions. The lion in the new badge has claws added to it, and the word "Prepared" was removed to increase the size of the lion and club initials in the badge.[7]

Kit sponsorship

Aston Villa's kit was produced by local manufacturers until 1974, when Umbro became the first kit supplier to have its logo on a Villa shirt. Since then, the kit has been manufactured by a number of different suppliers including Le Coq Sportif, Reebok, Nike and Kappa.[56] Aston Villa's first shirt sponsor was Davenports Breweries in the 1982–83 season. Since then, shirts have borne the logos of a number of local and national companies including AST Computers and Rover.[56] Aston Villa forwent commercial kit sponsorship for the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons; instead advertising the charity Acorns Children's Hospice, the first deal of its kind in Premier League history.[59] The partnership continued until 2010 when a commercial sponsor replaced Acorns, with the hospice becoming the club's Official Charity Partner.[60] In 2014–15, the Acorns name returned to Aston Villa's home and away shirts, but only for children's shirts re-affirming the club's support for the children's charity. A shirt sleeve sponsor was used for the first time in the 2019–20 season with BR88 being displayed.[61] The kit manufacturer for the 2020–21 season is Kappa with car sales website Cazoo as the shirt sponsor[62] and gambling company LT as the sleeve sponsor.[63]

Stadium

Aston Villa's current home venue is Villa Park; the team previously played at Aston Park (1874–1876) and Wellington Road (1876–1897). Villa Park is the largest football stadium in the English 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.[64] Villa Park is the most used stadium in FA Cup semi-final history, having hosted 55 semi-finals. In 2022, the club announced plans to rebuild the North Stand and part of the Trinity Road stand, which will take the maximum capacity over 50,000.[65]

The current training ground is located at Bodymoor Heath near Kingsbury in north Warwickshire, the site for which was purchased by former 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 £13 million redevelopment of Bodymoor in two phases. The new training ground was officially unveiled on 6 May 2007, by then manager Martin O'Neill, then 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.[66]

It was announced on 6 August 2014, that Villa Park would appear in the FIFA video game from FIFA 15, with all other Premier League stadiums also fully licensed from this game onwards.[67]

A panorama of Villa Park from the Trinity Road Stand, showing from left to right the North Stand, the Doug Ellis Stand and the Holte End

Ownership

 
Randy Lerner, the club owner of Aston Villa (2006–2016).

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 among the teams without implicating the FA itself. This trading continued for much of the 20th century until Ellis started buying up many of the shares in the 1960s. He was chairman and substantial shareholder of "Aston Villa F.C." from 1968 to 1975 and the majority shareholder from 1982 to 2006. The club were floated on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 1996, and the share price fluctuated in the ten years after the flotation.[68] In 2006 it was announced that several consortia and individuals were considering bids for Aston Villa.[69]

On 14 August 2006, it was confirmed that Randy Lerner, then owner of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns, had reached an agreement of £62.6 million with Aston Villa for a takeover of the club. Lerner took full control on 18 September with Ellis and his board replaced with a new board by Lerner on 19 September 2006.[69] Lerner appointed himself Chairman of the club with Charles Krulak as a non-executive director and Ellis awarded the honorary position of Chairman Emeritus.[70] Lerner put the club up for sale in May 2014, valuing it at an estimated £200 million.[71]

On 18 May 2016, Randy Lerner agreed the sale of Aston Villa to Recon Group, owned by Chinese businessman Xia Jiantong. The sale was completed on 14 June 2016 for a reported £76 million after being approved by the Football League, with the club becoming part of Recon Group's Sport, Leisure and Tourism division.[72][73][74] Recon Group were selected to take over Aston Villa following a selection process by the club.[75][76]

After failing to secure promotion to the Premier League in the 2017–18 season speculation about financial difficulties at the club began to mount. This prompted the owner Tony Xia to seek additional investment. On 20 July 2018 it was announced that the NSWE group, an Egyptian company owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and the American billionaire Wes Edens were to invest in the football club. They purchased a controlling 55% stake in the club and Sawiris took over the role of club chairman.[47] On 9 August 2019, on the eve of Villa's Premier League return, documents from Companies House revealed that Recon Group's minority share ownership had been bought out, and Dr. Tony Xia no longer had any stake in the club.[52]

Social responsibility

Aston Villa has a unique relationship with the Acorns Children's Hospice charity that is groundbreaking in English football.[77] In a first for the Premier League, Aston Villa donated the front of its kit shirts, usually reserved for high-paying sponsorships, to Acorns Hospice so that the charity would gain significant additional visibility and more funds.[78] Outside of the shirt sponsorship the club has paid for hospice care for the charity as well as regularly providing player visits to hospice locations.[79][80]

In September 2010, Aston Villa launched an initiative at Villa Park called Villa Midlands Food (VMF) where the club will spend two years training students with Aston Villa hospitality and events in association with Birmingham City Council. The club opened a restaurant in the Trinity Road Stand staffed with 12 students recruited from within a 10-mile (16 km) radius of Villa Park with most of the food served in the restaurant sourced locally.[81]

Aston Villa Foundation

In 2016, Aston Villa created a registered charity, the Aston Villa Foundation.[82] The aim of the charity is to deliver the social responsibility work of Aston Villa. Working alongside key local and national stakeholders, the Foundation delivers projects such as football in the community, disability, health and wellbeing, education, interventions and community relations.[83]

In May 2021, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge met with members of the Foundation at Aston Villa's Bodymoor Heath Training Ground. This was following the Foundation providing 1000 hot meals a week to local organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom as well as allowing a local NHS Trust to make use of Villa Park's facilities.[84]

Supporters and rivalries

 
Aston Villa fans in Villa Park's Holte End, proclaiming themselves to be the team's 12th man.

Aston Villa have a large fanbase and draw support from all over the Midlands and beyond, with supporters' clubs all across the world. Former Villa chief executive Richard Fitzgerald has stated that the ethnicity of the supporters is currently 98% white. When Randy Lerner's regime took over at Villa Park, they aimed to improve the support from ethnic minorities. A number of organisations have been set up to support the local community, including Aston Pride.[85] A Villa in the Community programme has also been set up to encourage support among young people in the region.[86] The new owners have also initiated several surveys aimed at gaining the opinions of Villa fans and to involve them in the decision making process. Meetings also occur every three months where supporters are invited by ballot and are invited to ask questions to the board.[87] In 2011, the club supported a supporter-based initiative for an official anthem to boost the atmosphere at Villa Park. The song "The Bells Are Ringing" is to be played before games.[88]

Like many English football clubs, Aston Villa has had several hooligan firms associated with it: Villa Youth, Steamers, Villa Hardcore and the C-Crew, the last mentioned being very active during the 1970s and 1980s. As can be seen across the whole of English football, the hooligan groups have now been marginalised.[89] In 2004, several Villa firms were involved in a fight with QPR fans outside Villa Park in which a steward died.[90] The main groupings of supporters can now be found in a number of domestic and international supporters' clubs. This includes the Official Aston Villa Supporters Club which also has many smaller regional and international sections.[91] There were several independent supporters clubs during the reign of Doug Ellis but most of these disbanded after his retirement.[70] The supporter group My Old Man Said formed to stand up for Villa supporters' rights, as a direct result of Villa supporters' protest against the club's appointment of Alex McLeish. The club's supporters also publish fanzines such as Heroes and Villains and The Holy Trinity.

Aston Villa's arch-rivals are Birmingham City, with games between the two clubs known as the Second City Derby.[5] Historically though, West Bromwich Albion have arguably been Villa's greatest rivals, a view highlighted in a fan survey, conducted in 2003.[92] The two teams contested three FA Cup finals in the late 19th century. Villa also enjoy less heated local rivalries with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Coventry City. Through the relegation of West Brom and Birmingham City, to the Football League Championship, in the 2005–06 season, at the start of 2006–07 Premiership season, Villa were the only Midlands club in that League. The nearest opposing team Villa faced during that season was Sheffield United, who played 62 miles (100 km) away in South Yorkshire.[93] For the 2010–11 season, West Bromwich Albion were promoted and joined Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Birmingham City in the Premier League. This marked the first time that the "West Midlands' Big Four" clubs have been in the Premier League at the same time, and the first time together in the top flight since the 1983–84 season. Birmingham were relegated at the end of the 2010–11 season, ending this period.[94]

The rivalry was renewed in 2016/17 when Aston Villa suffered relegation from the Premier League.[95] They were joined by West Brom for the 2018/19 season,[96] but was once again ended when Villa won promotion back to the Premier League[97]

Statistics

 
Chart showing the progress of Aston Villa F.C. through the English football league system

At the end of the 2020–21 season, Aston Villa had spent 107 seasons in the top tier of English football. The only club to have spent longer in the top flight are Everton, with 118 seasons,[98] making Aston Villa versus Everton the most-played fixture in English top-flight football. Aston Villa were relegated from the top tier of English football in 2016, having played in every Premier League season since its establishment in 1992–93, but were promoted back in 2018–19. They are ninth in the All-time FA Premier League table, and have the fifth highest total of major honours (20) won by an English club.[99]

Aston Villa currently hold the record number of league goals scored by any team in the English top flight; 128 goals were scored in the 1930–31 season, one more than Arsenal who won the league that season for the very first time, with Villa runners-up.[100] Villa forward Archie Hunter became the first player to score in every round of the FA Cup in Villa's victorious 1887 campaign. Villa's longest unbeaten home run in the FA Cup spanned 13 years and 19 games, from 1888 to 1901.[101]

Aston Villa are one of five English teams to have won the European Cup. They did so on 26 May 1982 in Rotterdam, beating Bayern Munich 1–0 thanks to Peter Withe's goal.[102]

Club honours

Aston Villa have won European and domestic league honours. The club's last English honour was in 1996 when they won the League Cup, and most recently they won the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

 
Captain John Devey standing in front of the FA Cup which the club won for the second time in 1895

Domestic

 
Star on the Birmingham Walk of Stars for the Aston Villa team who became European champions in 1982.
League titles
Champions:[B] 1893–94, 1895–96, 1896–97, 1898–99, 1899–1900, 1909–10, 1980–81
Champions:[B] 1937–38, 1959–60
Play-off Winners: 2018–19[104]
Champions:[B] 1971–72
Cups
Winners: 1886–87, 1894–95, 1896–97, 1904–05, 1912–13, 1919–20, 1956–57
Winners: 1960–61, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1993–94, 1995–96
Winners: 1981

European

Winners: 1981–82
Winners: 1982
Winners: 2001[A]

Players

First team squad

As of 28 February 2022, official first team squad including youth players that have made their senior league debut.[105]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   ARG Emiliano Martínez
2 DF   POL Matty Cash
4 DF   ENG Ezri Konsa
5 DF   ENG Tyrone Mings (captain)
6 MF   BRA Douglas Luiz
7 MF   SCO John McGinn
8 MF   FRA Morgan Sanson
10 MF   ARG Emiliano Buendía
11 FW   ENG Ollie Watkins
15 FW   BFA Bertrand Traoré
16 DF   ENG Calum Chambers
18 DF   ENG Ashley Young
19 MF   ZIM Marvelous Nakamba
20 FW   ENG Danny Ings
21 FW   NED Anwar El Ghazi
23 MF   BRA Philippe Coutinho
No. Pos. Nation Player
24 DF   FRA Frédéric Guilbert
25 GK   SWE Robin Olsen
27 DF   FRA Lucas Digne
29 DF   ENG Kaine Kesler Hayden
30 DF   ENG Kortney Hause
31 FW   JAM Leon Bailey
32 MF   ENG Jaden Philogene-Bidace
33 MF   ENG Carney Chukwuemeka
35 FW   ENG Cameron Archer
38 GK   FIN Viljami Sinisalo
39 FW   ENG Keinan Davis
41 MF   ENG Jacob Ramsey
47 MF   ENG Tim Iroegbunam
MF   FRA Boubacar Kamara
DF   BRA Diego Carlos

On loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
FW   USA Indiana Vassilev (on loan to Inter Miami until November 2022[106])

Under 21s and Academy

Players to have made their senior league debut are listed in the senior squad.[107]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
34 FW   IRL Tyreik Wright
36 DF   NED Lamare Bogarde
40 MF   ENG Aaron Ramsey
42 MF   ENG Arjan Raikhy
43 FW   ENG Brad Young
44 GK   ENG Filip Marschall
45 MF   ENG Ben Chrisene
46 FW   ENG Caleb Chukwuemeka
48 GK   POL Oliwier Zych
49 MF   ENG Hayden Lindley
50 MF   NED Sil Swinkels
No. Pos. Nation Player
54 FW   ENG DJ Campton-Sturridge
58 MF   IRL Tommi O’Reilly
60 FW   ENG Tristan Abldeen-Goodridge
61 DF   ENG Frankie Ealing
65 DF   CMR Patrick Zito
69 MF   ENG Chisom Afoka
DF   ENG Myles Sohna
MF   ENG Declan Frith
MF   ENG Finn Azaz
DF   ENG Sebastian Revan
FW   ENG Louie Barry

Notable players

There have been many players who can be called notable throughout Aston Villa's history. These can be classified and recorded in several forms. The Halls of Fame and PFA Players of the Year are noted below. As of 2020, Aston Villa are only surpassed by Tottenham Hotspur (78), for providing the most England internationals with 74 Villa players debuting for England, this record is jointly held with Liverpool.[108][109] Aston Villa have had several players who were one-club men, including inaugural club Hall of Fame inductee Billy Walker. In 1998, to celebrate the 100th season of League football, The Football League released a list entitled the Football League 100 Legends that consisted of "100 legendary football players." There were seven players included on the list who had played, or went on to play, for Villa: Danny Blanchflower, Trevor Ford, Archie Hunter, Sam Hardy, Paul McGrath, Peter Schmeichel and Clem Stephenson.[110]

Three Aston Villa players have won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. In 1977 Andy Gray won the award. In 1990 it was awarded to David Platt, whilst Paul McGrath won it in 1993. The PFA Young Player of the Year, which is awarded to players under the age of 23, has been awarded to four players from Aston Villa: Andy Gray in 1977; Gary Shaw in 1981; Ashley Young in 2009 and James Milner in 2010. The National Football Museum in Preston, Lancashire administers the English Football Hall of Fame which currently contains one Villa team, four Villa players and two managers. The 1982 team were inducted into the Hall of Fame in October 2011.[111] Joe Mercer was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his career as a manager including his time at Aston Villa.[112] Graham Taylor was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010 as a Football Foundation Community Champion.[113] The only Villa players in the Hall of Fame are Clem Stephenson, Danny Blanchflower, Peter Schmeichel and Paul McGrath.

In 2006 the club announced the creation of an "Aston Villa Hall of Fame." This was voted for by fans and the inaugural induction saw 12 former players, managers and directors named.[13] Former club captain Stiliyan Petrov was added to the list in May 2013.[114]

Non-playing staff

Corporate hierarchy

Source:[115]
Position Name
Executive Chairman Nassef Sawiris
Co-chairman Wes Edens
Chief Executive Officer & Director Christian Purslow[116]

Management hierarchy

 
Steven Gerrard was appointed head coach in November 2021
Position Name
Sporting Director Johan Lange[117]
Head Coach Steven Gerrard[118]
Assistant Head Coach Gary McAllister
Assistant Head Coach Neil Critchley[119]
First Team Coach Aaron Danks[120]
Head Goalkeeping Coach Neil Cutler[121]
Set-Piece Coach Austin MacPhee[122]
Technical Coach Tom Culshaw
Lead Physiotherapist Alan Smith
Lead Analyst Scott Mason
Head of Sport Medicine & Science Dr. Ricky Shamji
Performance Director Jeremy Oliver
Head of Emerging Talents & Loans Adam Henshall[123]
Loan Player Development Coach Mile Jedinak[124]
Head of Fitness & Conditioning Jordan Milsom
Head of Recruitment Rob MacKenzie
Head of Scouting Operations Bryn Davies
Head of Football Research Frederik Leth
Head Psychologist Dr. Martin Littlewood[125]
Head of Nutrition Marcus Hannon
Under-23 Head Coach Tony Carss[126]
Under-23 Professional Development Coach George Boateng
Under-18 Head Coach Gerard Nash[126]
Under-18 Professional Development Coach Adem Atay
Under-18 Professional Development Coach Karl Hooper
Academy Manager Mark Harrison[127]
Assistant Academy Manager Sean Verity

[128][129]

Notable managers

The following managers have all won at least one trophy when in charge or have been notable for Villa in the context of the League, for example Jozef Vengloš who holds a League record.

Name Period Played Won Drawn Lost Win%[D] Honours
From To
George Ramsay 1 August 1884 31 May 1926 1,327 658 414 255 049.59 6 FA Cups, 6 Division One championships.[130] Inducted into the Aston Villa Hall of Fame in 2006.[114]
Jimmy Hogan 1 November 1936 1 September 1939 124 57 26 41 045.97 Division Two champions[131]
Eric Houghton 1 September 1953 30 November 1958 250 88 65 97 035.20 FA Cup winner. Inducted into the Aston Villa Hall of Fame in 2006.[132]
Joe Mercer 1 December 1958 31 July 1964 282 120 63 99 042.55 Division Two champions, League Cup winner
Inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame[133]
Ron Saunders 4 June 1974 9 February 1982 353 157 98 98 044.48 2 League Cups, Division One champions. Inducted into the Aston Villa Hall of Fame in 2006.[134]
Tony Barton 9 February 1982 18 June 1984 130 58 24 48 044.62 European Cup, European Super Cup[135]
Jozef Vengloš 22 July 1990 28 May 1991 49 16 15 18 032.65 First manager not from Britain or Ireland to take charge of a top-flight club in England.[136]
Ron Atkinson 7 July 1991 10 November 1994 178 77 45 56 043.26 League Cup winner[137]
Brian Little 25 November 1994 24 February 1998 164 68 45 51 041.46 League Cup winner. Inducted into the Aston Villa Hall of Fame in 2006.[138]
John Gregory 25 February 1998 24 January 2002 190 82 52 56 043.16 Intertoto Cup winner[139]
Dean Smith 10 October 2018 7 November 2021 100 43 20 37 043.00 Championship play-off winner[140]

[141]

In popular culture

 
One of the earliest football paintings in the world, Thomas MM Hemy's "Sunderland v. Aston Villa 1895" depicts a match between the two most successful English teams of the decade.

Aston Villa were the subject, together with Sunderland, of one of the earliest football paintings in the world – possibly the earliest – when in 1895 the artist Thomas M. M. Hemy painted a picture of a game between the teams at Sunderland's then ground Newcastle Road.[142]

A number of television programmes have included references to Aston Villa over the past few decades. In the sitcom Porridge, the character Lennie Godber is a Villa supporter.[143] When filming began on Dad's Army, Villa fan Ian Lavender was allowed to choose Frank Pike's scarf from an array in the BBC wardrobe; he chose a claret and blue one – Aston Villa's colours.[144] The character Nessa in the BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey was revealed as an Aston Villa fan in an episode screened in December 2009.[145]

In the 1952 film The Card, the main character Denry Machin (Alec Guinness) becomes a town councillor and purchases the rights to locally born Aston Villa player 'Callear', the "greatest centre-forward in England", for the failing local football club.

Villa have also featured on several occasions in prose. Stanley Woolley, a character in Derek Robinson's Booker shortlisted novel Goshawk Squadron is an Aston Villa fan and names a pre-war starting eleven Villa side. Together with The Oval, Villa Park is referenced by the poet Philip Larkin in his poem about the First World War, MCMXIV.[146] Aston Villa are also mentioned in Harold Pinter's play The Dumb Waiter.[147]

Notable supporters of Aston Villa include Prince William,[148] former Prime Minister David Cameron, musician Ozzy Osbourne, actor Tom Hanks, and golfer Justin Rose.[149]

Aston Villa Women

Aston Villa have a women's football side that compete in the Women's Super League having been promoted as champions of the 2019-20 FA Women's Championship. They were founded as Solihull F.C. in 1973 and affiliated to Aston Villa in 1989.[150]

Footnotes

A. ^ In 2001 Aston Villa were one of three co-winners of the Intertoto Cup with Paris Saint-Germain and Troyes AC. The club also won all of their 2008 Intertoto Cup rounds to be named joint-winners and progress to the UEFA Cup, the format was changed in 2006 to award the Intertoto Trophy to the side progressing furthest in the UEFA Cup, which was S.C. Braga.
B. ^ 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.
^ Saunders was never a player for Aston Villa; he was the manager from 1974 to 1982.
^ Win% is rounded to two decimal places

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Works cited

  • Brown, Danny; Milo Brittle (2006). Villains: The Inside Story of Aston Villa's Hooligan Gangs. Milo Books. ISBN 978-1-903854-59-4.
  • Goodyear, David; Matthews, Tony (1988). Aston Villa—A Complete Record 1874–1988. Breedon Books. ISBN 0-907969-37-2.
  • Hayes, Dean (1997). The Villa Park Encyclopedia: A-Z of Aston Villa. Mainstream Publishing (2 October 1997). ISBN 978-1-85158-959-3.
  • Ward, Adam; Griffin, Jeremy (30 September 2002). The essential history of Aston Villa. Headline book publishing (2002). ISBN 0-7553-1140-X.
  • When Saturday Comes: The Half Decent Football Book. Penguin UK. 2006. ISBN 978-0-14-192703-9.

External links

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