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May 12, 2014

Aston Villa put up for sale by Lerner

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner announced on Monday that he wants to sell the English Premier League club.

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has announced that he is putting the Premier League club up for sale after eight years at the helm.

Randy Lerner continues to back Villa boss Paul Lambert.
Lerner is one of several Americans with a stake in a Premier League club.

Lerner hinted earlier this season that he was considering his own position as Villa battled against relegation for a third successive season and it has been confirmed that former Cleveland Browns owner wishes to offload his controlling interest in the Midlands club.

After Lerner took over from Doug Ellis at Villa Park in 2006 the Birmingham club secured three straight sixth-place finishes with Martin O'Neill in the dugout. However, after they were unable to break into the top four and secure Champions League football, Villa embarked on a cost-cutting programme in recent seasons that has left managers Alex McLeish and his successor Paul Lambert struggling in the bottom half of the table.

On Monday, the day after the club finished their most recent campaign 15th in the table, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns NFL franchise announced that he would be seeking to sell his stake in Villa.

"Several weeks back I said that following the end of the season I would clarify my future role with the club, and address what had become seemingly constant rumours of a sale," Lerner said in a club statement. "I have come to know well that fates are fickle in the business of English football. And I feel that I have pushed mine well past the limit.

"The last several seasons have been week in, week out battles and having now come through this last season unfortunately limping amidst very meaningful injuries and constant sale rumours, I feel further that now is the time for me to look for new ownership and thus new leadership.

"I have asked the world of Paul Lambert and Paul Faulkner and they have both delivered selflessly. On a personal level it is time for me, like the Shunammite, to dwell among my own and get on with other aspects of my career, following a sale.

"Above all, the debt I owe Aston Villa whether as owner, Chairman, custodian or simply as a fan is to put the club first. To make good on that debt, I owe it to Villa to move on, and look for fresh, invigorated leadership, if in my heart I feel I can no longer do the job.

"During my time with Villa, I have tried to strengthen and improve the club's physical infrastructure both at Villa Park and Bodymoor Heath while also trying to carry on the McGregor tradition of being mindful of the local community we serve.

"I can see now that it is time, if possible, to hand these privileges and responsibilities to the next person or group to take the club forward. I am appreciative of the support I have received, even in these last years of comparative struggle when criticism was due, and will look on with others -- with fingers crossed, for stronger future performance appropriate to our size and heritage.

"Finally, in light of the above, I have engaged Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the sale of Aston Villa."

The Independent and Daily Telegraph newspapers in England reported last month that potential owners of Villa were positioning themselves ahead of this expected announcement from Lerner to sell the club.

Meanwhile, Villa manager Paul Lambert confirmed after Sunday's final Premier League game of the season at Tottenham that he was keen to remain in his post even if there is a change of ownership at the club.

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