Aston Villa players yesterday launched an unprecedented attack on chairman Doug Ellis - accusing him of penny-pinching and lacking ambition.
The Villa boss came in for scathing criticism in a statement issued by the players which claimed he was working against what they were trying to achieve on the pitch.
Sources close to the boardroom said the attack would not affect Ellis's style of leadership, although the 82-year-old would feel personally hurt because the concerns were raised by his own players.
The statement read: "People talk about Aston Villa being a big club and winning the European Cup in 1982. We feel it should be a big club but if the chairman has got ambition he needs to start showing it. It has got to come from the top.
"So many other clubs are doing so much to show their ambition apart from us. 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."
The statement included claims that Ellis refused to pay to have pitches watered and stopped the development of new training facilities.
It was also claimed that the club physio could not claim back expenses for a cup of coffee he had at the airport during a visit to injured defender Martin Laursen, who is receiving treatment in Italy.
Ellis last night reacted swiftly, with the club saying on its website that every senior squad member contacted by them denied knowledge of the statement.
Head of Media and Communications Phil Mepham said: "The chairman is furious, because he has had no indication from any member of the playing or coaching staff of any dissatisfaction at the training ground. So this has come as a great surprise.
"Once the 'story' broke I spoke to several senior members of the first-team squad, all of whom had no knowledge of the statement. All of them were surprised at its content. So to suggest this is a collective statement is ridiculous."
But a source close to the Villa boardroom said: "Ellis is so thick skinned he will just go on. You would have thought that because it is the players it might affect him."
The source said the players would have been most concerned about the halting of work at the Bodymoor Heath training ground near Tamworth.
Aston Villa Shareholders' Association chairman Jonathan Fear said: "I am proud of the players. Proud that they are standing up for the club.
"This shows that they are not just after their wages. This shows that we do have some fantastic players at the Villa who realise the potential that the club has. They are demoralised.
"Doug Ellis should hang his head in shame. The club is on its knees. It is in such a state now the long term season ticket holders are turning their backs on it.
"The players have joined previous managers and the fans in pointing out what is holding this club back - the chairman."
Neil Heitzman, chairman of the Aston Villa Supporters Trust, said: "Every minute that Ellis stays is pulling the club down."
Gordon Taylor, chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, said the outburst was "highly unusual".
"I cannot recall this sort of thing happening before," he said.
Villa finished two places off the relegation zone in a miserable season which saw some fans calling for the head of manager David O'Leary.