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By ESPN Staff

Ellis opens Villa takeover talks with Lerner

Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis has held initial discussions with American billionaire Randy Lerner over a possible takeover of the club.

Ellis is flying back to Birmingham after his holiday in Spain to continue negotiations with Lerner who is owner of NFL club Cleveland Browns.

Lerner is understood to have already run the rule over Villa Park and the club's training ground complex at Bodymoor Heath.

The 44-year-old is believed to be ready to meet major shareholder Ellis's selling price of around £57million.

A second consortium, led by life-long Villa fan Michael Neville, is also vying to take control and also remain confident of matching the asking price.

Solihull businessman Neville is optimistic new backers will be in place sooner rather than later.

Villa are remaining tight-lipped and would only say: 'We have nothing to say about renewed speculation over the future of Aston Villa.'