Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis was in typically bullish mood last night, despite being admitted to a private hospital in Birmingham to undergo heart bypass surgery.
The 81-year-old told members of his family at The Priory Hospital he intends to be back working at Villa before the new Premiership season starts in August once he recovers from the operation, which is believed to scheduled for Sunday.
Mr Ellis has received dozens of phone calls and messages of support from friends and wellwishers after the club broke the news in a statement to the stock exchange yesterday evening.
A close family friend told The Post: ?Doug considers the operation to merely be a ?plumbing job? and insists he will be fit and back at his desk for the beginning of the new season.
?Doug knows he is in very good hands and is not worried about the medical procedure which he believes is ?nothing unusual?.?
Mr Ellis was in his office as usual on Monday morning but complained of chest pains later in the week.
Last night a cardiologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, who did not want to be named, said heart bypass operations have an 85 to 90 per cent success rate.
The operation, which usually lasts between three and four hours, is required when patients? arteries narrow or get blocked, restricting the supply of blood to the heart.
The risks to those undergoing the operation increase with age and patients normally spend five to ten days in hospital afterwards and a further four to six weeks before returning to work.
In Mr Ellis?s absence, Aston Villa?s operations director Steve Stride and company secretary Marion Stringer will continue to manage the business with board members and the management team. A board meeting has been scheduled to confirm ongoing responsibilities during his absence.
Mr Ellis, who beat prostate cancer in September 2004, may remain positive about his impending surgery and recovery but his prolonged absence from the club could undermine Villa?s preparations for the new season.
Villa have allocated substantial funds to buy new players this summer ? they have already signed Patrik Berger and Aaron Hughes ? but following the shock departure of chief executive Bruce Langham last month, this latest setback leaves the club without their two main powerbrokers.
Mr Ellis has been controlling shareholder at Villa Park since 1982 but his association with the club stretches back to 1968 when he first joined the club?s board.
He was awarded an OBE in the New Year?s honours list and made it clear that he had no intention of relinquishing his control at Villa when he rejected a takeover bid from a consortium headed by former Manchester City player Ray Ranson 12 months ago.