Doug Ellis and the Aston Villa board have failed its shareholders by rejecting out of hand a #47 million takeover bid that included a substantial cash injection for new players, the chairman's former right- hand man claimed last night.

Mark Ansell, the club's former deputy chief executive, said the latest bid for the club, tabled by former Birmingham City defender Ray Ranson, was never put to the club's wider stakeholders for consideration.

Mr Ranson, now a successful businessman following the end of his football career, has been courting the club for some time.

But after a #4 per share proposal was submitted to the Villa plc board and rejected, the ex-Manchester City player confirmed he would not be following up his interest.

Last night Mr Ansell, who left the club in 2003, told The Birmingham Post the board received the bid on July 22 but seven days later sent a letter to shareholders saying they had nothing to report.

He added the "significant" sum of money the bid would have injected into the club had not been made known to the supporters and shareholders.

"It is my understanding that one of the major shareholders has made it clear he would be prepared to sell his shares at the price offered and there are smaller shareholders and supporters who have not been made aware of the bid and, importantly, the significant sum of money that would go to the club."

No one at the club was available to comment last night.