A former commercial manager at Aston Villa has accused the club's previous chairman Doug Ellis of racial discrimination, an employment tribunal heard yesterday.

Abdul Rashid, who worked at the club for 28 years, lost his job after a shake-up of non-playing staff. Yesterday, he blamed Mr Ellis, head of human resources Lisa Trotter and the club's board for unfair dismissal.

According to Simon Pine, representing Mr Rashid, the decision not to rehire him after restructuring in the club was "predetermined".

Describing the restructure in which Mr Rashid's job had disappeared as a "sham" designed to get rid of him, Mr Pine said: "The board thought he was inefficient and incapable of keeping abreast of developments."

But Mr Rashid's allegation, which centres on a period before Randy Lerner took over, was dismissed by the club's representative Sam Neaman.

Mr Neaman said: "The board did nothing other than accept the restructuring plans. Mrs Trotter had nothing to do with the restructure and neither did Mr Ellis."

He added the race allegation was not specifically raised by Mr Rashid until January this year despite him leaving the club in August 2005.

The Birmingham tribunal heard how Mr Rashid had withdrawn applications for two newly created posts of head of business development and head of hospitality after his own role was made redundant.

In addition, Mr Neaman said he had haggled with the club over perks including tickets, healthcare benefits and even a Christmas turkey after leaving the club.

He also held meetings with directors in which it was alleged he had threatened to go to the media with allegations about financial irregularities, although the club could not investigate because he would not provide more details, the tribunal heard. Mr Neaman said Mr Rashid's view that his job had disappeared because of his race was "outlandish".

Mrs Trotter added the allegations were "hurtful" and said: "At no stage during the redundancy process did he ever suggest he was the victim of racial discrimination. It seems absurd to say that after 28 years, the club would remove his role on the grounds of race."

The hearing continues.