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'Deadly Doug' writes Villa's Premier League obituary

Doug Ellis (L) and Bobby Charlton arrive for the funeral of former Preston and England soccer player Tom Finney at Preston Minster, northern England, February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis/Files
Doug Ellis (L) and Bobby Charlton arrive for the funeral of former Preston and England soccer player Tom Finney at Preston Minster, northern England, February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis/Files

(Reuters) - Former European champions Aston Villa will be relegated from the Premier League this season, according to former owner Doug Ellis.

Remi Garde's side have won just three of 26 league games this campaign and are at the foot of the table, eight points adrift of safety with 12 matches remaining.

"The only blame I can place is with the club as a whole, from the board of directors, to the manager, to the coaches, to the players," Ellis told Sky Sports.

"In the end, it's the players that are really responsible. Unfortunately, they've not been good enough this season.

"It's now a certainty that (Aston Villa) will be in the Championship (second tier) next year."

Ellis returned as Villa chairman for a second spell in 1982, shortly after they won the European Cup.

The club were relegated from the top flight in 1988 but they bounced straight back the following season where they had stayed since, also winning two League Cups in 1994 and 1996.

Ellis, nicknamed 'Deadly Doug' after sacking a number of managers during his reign, sold Villa to Randy Lerner almost 10 years ago and felt that the 54-year-old American should have invested more time with the club.

"I'm rather sad that the man I sold to hasn't given more of his time to come and see Aston Villa play," the 92-year-old said.

"I'd love it (if he came to a game). He is available on the phone but not personally, in the director’s box, which I believe he should."

Villa travel to the Britannia Stadium to take on 10th-placed Stoke City in the league on Saturday.

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru. Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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