Aston Villa Profile

Major Honours First Division/Premier League (7), FA Cup (7), League Cup (5), European Cup/Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Intertoto Cup
Year Founded 1874

From a history that started in 1874, Aston Villa are seven-time champions of England, seven-time FA Cup winners, European Cup winners and more. The club boasts a large fanbase and rich heritage.

Aston Villa are an English soccer club based in the West Midlands who compete in the Premier League. They are currently managed by boyhood fan Dean Smith and play their home games at Villa Park with a capacity of 42,276.

Affectionately known as 'Villa', 'the Villa' or 'the Villans', they were founded in 1876 and are the fifth-most successful team domestically with seven league titles in the top tier of English soccer - their last being in 1980/81 - seven FA Cups and five League Cups.

Villa are also one of only five English clubs to have won the European Cup, later renamed as the UEFA Champions League, in 1982 with a famous victory over German giants Bayern Munich.

Tony Barton was in charge of Villa's only European Cup triumph having taken over from Ron Saunders at the quarter-final phase following the latter's shock resignation from the club.

Peter Withe scored the sole goal to secure victory for Villa and the commentary from Brian Moore for the goal is displayed on a banner across the North Stand at Villa Park.

It says the following: "Shaw, Williams, prepared to venture down the left. There's a good ball in for Tony Morley. Oh, it must be and it is! It's Peter Withe." The following year, Villa won the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over Barcelona.

Villa's early history

Aston Villa were founded in March 1874 by Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price and William Scattergood. They played their first match against the local Aston Brook St Mary's Rugby team, agreeing to play rugby rules in the first half and association football in the second.

It did not take long before Villa were one of the dominant forces in Midlands football and they won their first trophy in 1880 - the Birmingham Senior Cup.

In 1887, they won the FA Cup, and the following year, they were one of the 12 inaugural members of the Football League. One of the club's directors, William McGregor, founded the league.

Aston Villa's 1887 FA Cup-winning squad

Villa were tremendously successful in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1897, they won the domestic double [the First Division and FA Cup] and moved into Villa Park, then known as the Aston Lower Grounds.

Villa were league champions in 1893/94, 1895/96, 1896/97, 1898/99 and 1899/1900 and picked up another Division One crown in 1909/10. Under the guidance of George Ramsay, Villa won six league titles and six FA Cups prior to his departure in 1926.

Villa went into decline in the 1920s and were relegated from the First Division for the first time in 1936.

Post-war era and resurgence in late '50s

In 1945, Villa rebuilt under the guidance of Alex Massie - a former player who had helped them regain First Division status in 1937/38. The Scot would remain at the helm for five years and led them to three top-10 finishes in the top tier despite not having full control of selecting the squad.

In 1956/57, another ex-Villa player in Eric Houghton guided the side to its first trophy in 37 years with victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

After experiencing relegation for the second time since forming, Villa were led back into the top flight by Joe Mercer as they won the Second Division in 1960. The following year, they became the first team to win the League Cup, defeating Rotherham United in a two-legged final.

From Division Three to a European Cup win

Following the departure of Mercer in 1964, Villa went into a period of unprecedented decline. They were relegated from the top flight once again under Dick Taylor in 1967 and finished 16th in the Second Division the following campaign. Fans called for the resignation of the board and they relented after sacking Tommy Cummings, who had been brought in to replace Taylor.

Despite Pat Matthews taking charge of the club and the appointment of Doug Ellis as chairman, Villa were relegated to the Third Division in 1969/70.

The Villa revival began under the guidance of Vic Crowe, who was appointed manager in 1970. He steered them to promotion back to the Second Division in 1971/72. Crowe was sacked in 1974 after finishing 14th in Division Two, but the man who replaced him, Ron Saunders, became the most important manager in the club's history since Mercer.

In Saunders' first season as manager, 1974/75, he guided Villa to promotion to the top flight as runners-up in the Second Division while also winning the League Cup. In 1976/77, Villa continued their rich tradition with the tournament by winning the League Cup again.

The 1980/81 season saw Saunders' efforts culminate in First Division glory as Villa won the title for the first time in 71 years. They beat Ipswich Town to the title by four points and striker Peter Withe finished the league season as joint-top goalscorer alongside Tottenham Hotspur's Steve Archibald, with both scoring 20 goals.

In the 1981 FA Charity Shield, Withe scored a brace against Tottenham in a 2-2 draw which saw the sides share the trophy.

On February 9, 1982, Saunders resigned over a disagreement with the board regarding his contract. He had led Villa to the quarter-finals of the European Cup and his assistant, Tony Barton, took over and completed the club's first ever triumph in the competition.

Villa beat Bayern Munich 1-0 in the final in a game which saw their keeper Jimmy Rimmer substituted just 10 minutes in after picking up an injury. Nigel Spink, who had played just one game prior to replacing Rimmer, received high praise for his match-winning performance between the sticks.

Aston Villa celebrate winning the European Cup in 1982

Villa were unable to maintain this success and were relegated in 1987, but won promotion the following year under Graham Taylor. The Englishman then led Villa to second place behind Liverpool in the First Division in 1989/90.

Villa in the Premier League era

Villa were among the founding members of the Premier League and finished second to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in 1992/93, its first season.

Having followed that up with League Cup success in 1993/94 and 1995/96, Villa lost the 2000 FA Cup final to Chelsea.

In 2006, Ellis - the largest single shareholder in Aston Villa - sold his stake to Randy Lerner, owner of the NFL's Cleveland Browns, due to health problems. The deal to sell the club to Lerner was worth a reported £62.6million, with Ellis standing down following its completion.

The beginning of the Lerner era sparked optimism at Villa Park and Martin O'Neill was appointed manager on August 4, 2006. He replaced David O'Leary, under whom Villa had suffered a horrendous 2005/06 season, finishing 16th in the Premier League.

Under O'Neill, Villa steadily climbed the table, finishing 11th in 2006/07 before rising to sixth the following campaign.

Villa were on course to qualify for the UEFA Champions League until late in the 2008/09 season, when a collapse cost them their spot and they once again finished sixth. Another sixth-place finish followed in 2009/10, which also saw Villa lose the League Cup final 2-1 to Manchester United.

O'Neill resigned as manager shortly before the start of the 2010/11 season and was replaced by Gerard Houllier. Villa finished ninth that season and then dropped to 16th in 2011/12 under Alex McLeish.

Paul Lambert took over from McLeish, but by this stage, Villa were on a perilous path. Lambert's three-year stint was marred by Lerner putting the club up for sale. Following two 15th-placed finishes in his first two seasons, Lambert was sacked in February 2015 with Villa in danger of relegation. Tim Sherwood steered them to safety.

Relegation to the Championship and returning to the Premier League

The 2015/16 season was a disaster for Villa as they finished rock bottom in the Premier League with only 17 points, with neither Sherwood nor successor Remi Garde able to arrest the slide. There was a palpable disconnect between supposed star players such as Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott and the Villa supporters.

Tony Xia's Recon Group bought the club for £76million and Roberto Di Matteo was hired as manager, but he was sacked after a poor start to the 2016/17 season and replaced by Steve Bruce.

Villa finished fourth in the Championship in 2017/18, but lost the 2018 Championship play-off final to Fulham.

Bruce was sacked early in the 2018/19 season and replaced by Dean Smith, who supported Villa growing up, who led them to promotion via a 2-1 play-off final victory over Derby County. Villa narrowly survived relegation in the 2019/20 Premier League season with Jack Grealish playing a starring role for the Villans in midfield.

Jack Grealish and Dean Smith hold the Championship play-off trophy in 2019

Aston Villa's biggest rivals

Birmingham City are Aston Villa's fiercest local rivals and the pair contest the Second City derby. The rivalry dates back to a hotly-contested fixture in 1879, when Birmingham were known as Small Heath Alliance.

The rivalry between the clubs was reignited by Villa's recent managerial appointments of Alex McLeish, who joined directly from Birmingham, and Steve Bruce, who had a successful stint in charge of them.

Villa also have fierce rivalries with fellow Midlands clubs West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Aston Villa and their fanbase

Former Villa chief executive Richard Fitzgerald claimed that Villa's support base was 98% white. Under the guidance of Lerner, the club targeted reaching supporters of other ethnicities.

Villa Youth, Steamers, Villa Hardcore and the C-Crew are hooligan firms which have been associated with the club, but in modern times, Villa have sought to be involved in the community and allow supporters to have their say in club decisions via surveys.

Villa are one of the best-supported clubs in England, with Villa Park being a regular host of FA Cup semi-finals in years gone by and a famous atmosphere generated at Villans' home matches.

Villa's ownership and finances

The club was floated on the London Stock Exchange in the 1990s and that was the case until 2006 when American businessman Randy Lerner took control of the club.

Ownership has changed since then and Lerner's successors in charge of Villa, Recon Group, saw their stake in Aston Villa bought out completely in 2019 and the club is now owned by Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.

Villa's owners announced a pre-tax loss of £68.9million for the financial year ending May 2019.

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