Doug Ellis believes he has been proved right in selling Aston Villa to American billionaire Randy Lerner in a #64 million deal.

Ellis ended his 35-year working association with Villa, including 31 years as chairman, when he was bought out by Lerner, although he will retain some interest as a life president. But he has been delighted with how Lerner, the owner of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns, has gone about his duties at Villa in partnership with new manager Martin O’Neill.

Ellis said: "I have to praise Mr Lerner wholeheartedly. There were five consortiums interested in buying Aston Villa but I always knew he was the right man and I have been proved 100 per cent correct.

"It was instinctive. I am a devil for first impressions and he has kept every single one of his promises. Randy Lerner gave me the right feeling the first moment we met.

"We were on the same wavelength from the very beginning. Mr Lerner and his people are not only extremely warm people but football people through and through.

"That was clear from the outset. They are absolutely driven by Aston Villa, the name, the history, everything."

Ellis also believes Villa’s stable financial position made them an attractive proposition for Lerner.

He said: "Mr Lerner didn’t have to find any money to repay any debts. They had looked at the likes of Newcastle and Everton and others but they all carried debts.

"But I had never borrowed a penny at Villa until 2005 and that was because we needed to rebuild the training ground at Bodymoor Heath and needed #4 million. Bodymoor Heath will be the best in the country. We have borrowed the best ideas from everywhere from Middlesbrough to Arsenal."

 Ellis often came under fire from fans during his time at the helm for a perceived lack of investment in the squad. But he said: "I have received dozens of letters out of the blue saying thank you. Even making my way out of the ground, people have been shaking my hand."