Aston Villa Football Club, commonly referred to as Villa, is a professional football club based in Aston, Birmingham, England. The club competes in the Premier League, the top tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in England, having won the Football League First Division seven times, the FA Cup seven times, the League Cup five times, and the European Cup and European Super Cup once.
Aston Villa has been a leading English club since the 1880s, renowned for their short, quick combination passing under Scotsman George Ramsay, who was appointed as the world's first professional football manager in 1886. The club was influential in the sport's move to professionalism in 1885 and it was a Villa director, William McGregor who founded the world's first Football League in 1888.
George Ramsay's trophy haul of six League Championships and six FA Cups established Aston Villa as the most successful club in England, a position it held from the 1890s until the 1970s. Villa scored 128 goals in season 1930–31, which remains the all-time top-flight record, however the club began its first decline in the mid-1930s; the 1940s and 50s was generally a period of mediocrity followed by a steep decline in the 1960s which culminated in a takeover of the club by Doug Ellis in 1968 and Villa's first and only relegation to the third tier of English football in 1969–70. Villa returned to the elite from the mid-1970s under manager Ron Saunders, who led the club to a seventh top-flight league title in 1980–81. They became only the fourth English club to win the European Cup, in 1981–82, followed by the European Super Cup in 1982.
Aston Villa was a founding member of the Premier League in 1992, one of just three clubs to have been founding members of both the Football League and the Premier League. The club regularly qualified for European football in the 1990s, but following a period in which the club struggled to compete with the high levels of spending of the leading clubs, Doug Ellis sold his stake in the club to American billionaire Randy Lerner, whose ownership of the club ended with Villa's first and only relegation from the Premier League in season 2015–16. The club returned to the Premier League in 2019.