LONDON • Aston Villa are considering whether they have legal grounds to sack club captain Gabriel Agbonlahor over allegations that he attended a party where nitrous oxide was present on the same day that his team were relegated.
Villa's season of shame reached a new low over the weekend after pictures emerged of Agbonlahor partying at a London hotel - alleged to have taken place hours after Villa's relegation to the Championship was confirmed by a 0-1 loss at Manchester United on Saturday.
Canisters of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, could be seen on the floor and it was also alleged that the 29-year-old was seen downing shots of alcohol later in the night.
The pictures were the latest embarrassment for the club, which followed Mervyn King and David Bernstein announcing their shock resignation from the board over an internal conflict on Monday.
Agbonlahor has been suspended after his latest alleged misdemeanour. He was sent home and told to stay away from the club's Bodymoor Heath training ground until Villa conclude an internal probe.
The forward, who has scored just one goal this season, was last week ordered to undergo a "personal fitness programme" after Eric Black, the caretaker manager, decreed that he was overweight. He was also told that he would not be considered for selection for a fortnight.
Villa are hoping to cut ties with the Englishman, who came through the club's academy before making his debut in 2006, and it is understood that they are looking into whether they have sufficient legal grounds to terminate his contract.
Dennis Mortimer, the man who captained Villa to victory in the 1982 European Cup final against Bayern Munich, told The Times: "His days at Villa are numbered. What he has apparently done is foolish and disgusting. He has been a silly boy again."
The suspension came as about 1,000 Villa season ticket-holders were told that they will need to relocate to new seats next season, with the club planning to close the upper tier of their huge Trinity Road Stand to save money.
THE TIMES, LONDON