Former Aston Villa owner Sir Doug Ellis says he does not regret selling the club but insists he is hurt by the team’s current plight.
Following Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Sunderland, Villa are stranded at the bottom of the Premier League with only eight points from 20 matches.
It is far from the scenario Ellis – who owned the club for 31 years – imagined when he sold the club to Randy Lerner for £62.5million in 2006.
“Relegation is inevitable now and any tears are now rather than at a specific time,” he told the Daily Mirror.
“I put blood, sweat and toil into the club but when the time comes I won’t be surprised we are relegated, therefore I am suffering now rather than then. Nevertheless it will be a very sad day when we are no longer in the Premier League.
“It never entered my head then when I sold the club but I don’t regret selling to Randy. I am a great believer in a gentleman’s handshake.
“To me I sold to a good man in Randy Lerner. I had a lot of business with 18 or 19 chairmanships throughout my business life. I have always valued the ones where there hasn’t been a lot of paperwork and just a simple shake of hands.
“If both sides agree to what we said at the shake of a hand then I am a happy man. To me he is a perfect example of that.
Lerner has drastically scaled back spending since Martin O’Neill guided the side to sixth in 2009/10, meaning subsequent bosses Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish, Paul Lambert, Tim Sherwood and now Remi Garde have all had to battle against relegation.
The American has publicly expressed his desire to sell the club and now very rarely visits England.
“It is a pity Randy’s circumstances have changed to such an extent he has to be in the States. It is a pity Randy can’t come over a bit more often. I would like him to do that but that is his choice,” Ellis added.
“When chairman I was very much involved with the football side, I’d encourage the players because I used to go into the dressing room after each game.
“Not immediately, I gave them 5-10 minutes for the manager to have some quick words. I was a football chairman and as such understood the game a little more than the majority of chairmen these days who haven’t got the background I had.
“Randy hasn’t professed to say he has a football background. He has people with football know-how instead but things have not worked out.
“It looks a certainty that we are going to get relegated, I can’t see us being saved.”