Aston Villa has been accused of race discrimination in an unfair dismissal case brought by sacked commercial chief Abdul Rashid.
The club, chaired by 81-year-old Doug Ellis, is facing the claim in legal papers filed by Mr Rashid with Birmingham Employment Tribunals.
The complaint challenges the way Mr Rashid was dismissed, and the detail includes an allegation of racial discrimination. Mr Rashid spent a total of 28 years working for Aston Villa until August, when he left the club as part of sweeping backroom changes announced by then chief executive Bruce Langham.
Villa said they were " saddened and disappointed" by the allegations which they vowed to fight all the way.
A club statement said: "We are saddened that Abdul has brought this action and disappointed by the fact that he has chosen to publicise his actions.
"Throughout 28 years of service Abdul was held in high regard and we note that throughout this time that Abdul did not make any allegations of racial discrimination."
During his time at Villa Park, Mr Rashid, aged 44, is credited with helping to raise more than £100 million for the club.
The former commercial manager formally signed off the legal papers last week, and the case is now due to go before an Employment Tribunal in Birmingham.
Mr Rashid confirmed his action, and said: "I am pursuing a claim against Aston Villa Football Club for unfair dismissal and racial discrimination."