Express & Star gets Aston Villa player revolt scoop

The Wolverhampton Express & Star's sports writer Tim Nash dropped a "nuclear bomb" on Aston Villa's preseason training when he was given exclusive access to a player revolt.

Despite an official media blackout, Nash attended a meeting where senior Aston Villa players revealed that their club is in crisis and that they are disenchanted with club chairman Doug Ellis.

In the meeting on Friday, players made damning revelations about Ellis's cost-cutting measures and perceived lack of commitment to the club.

Nash attended the players' meeting just 45 minutes before his paper's 2.30pm final edition deadline — but managed to get the story, which was widely followed up in the national press, into that day's paper.

Aware that players could get into trouble for their comments, Nash suggested they release a joint statement which he said reflected the views of "the bulk of senior players at Villa Park".

Part of the 320-word statement, which the Express & Star published in full, said: "As players, we're all ambitious and we want to improve on last season. The chairman should be behind the club and not working against what we're trying to achieve.

"There have been a series of cutbacks and we feel we have to mention this, because they are now starting to affect us. There are no positives coming out of the club."

The club contacted Nash to discredit his claims that the statement reflected the majority of players, but Nash responded in an article entitled "don't shoot the messenger".

Ellis has since launched an inquiry, including a search of club phone records, into how Nash met the players despite the media ban.

Nash wrote in his paper on Monday: "If anyone out there thinks that the views in our story… are the ramblings of one disgruntled player, they are kidding themsleves.

"At one stage, as one of the interviewees hesitated over just how critical he should be, another very well-known Villa teammate shouted: ‘Come on, just fucking say it…' Another interjected: ‘What's going on here is shocking.' I knew what I was hearing had the capacity to drop a nuclear bomb into Villa's pre-season preparations and send shockwaves through their fan base."

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