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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 3, 2006

Consortiums to join forces in Villa takeover?

Two of the consortiums interested in buying Aston Villa may join forces to try and win the takeover battle.

The group known as AV06 fronted by deputy judge Nicholas Padfield QC have confirmed they have been approached by representatives of life-long Villa fan Michael Neville.

Padfield is willing to set up a meeting with Neville when he returns from holiday at the weekend before having talks with Villa chairman Doug Ellis on Tuesday.

If the two parties form an allegiance it will give them greater financial muscle to combat the challenge posed by American billionaire Randy Lerner and the consortium fronted by Sven-Goran Eriksson's agent Athole Still.

Padfield, in an interview on Radio Five Live, said: 'The latest state of play is we have been approached by representatives from other consortia who have already put their hats in the ring. One of those is representatives of Mr Neville.

'We are considering opening discussions with them but haven't taken a firm decision. Nothing is going to happen until I return (from holiday) at the end of the week.

'We haven't had serious discussions yet but an approach has been made to me and certainly I'm quite happy to arrange a meeting when I get back.'

Padfield insists there is unlikely to be any 'great rush' to make a formal bid until he is aware of all the relevant information, and he is surprised Ellis and the club have kept him in the dark over potential developments.

Martin O'Neill is favourite to replace David O'Leary as manager although Padfield denied claims that he had already spoken to the former Celtic boss.

He said: 'I have had no discussions with Mr Ellis at all and all of us find it surprising that no-one from the club has bothered to tell us what the position is as regards whether any formal offers have been made or indeed the position as regards appointing a manager.

'I don't know what Michael Neville's position is in relation to Martin O'Neill. There have been rumours he has been appointed or will be appointed. I have had no contact with Martin O'Neill.

'I am having various meetings next week. They will be a number of meetings but I don't anticipate we will be in a great rush to make a bid simply because we don't have all the relevant information on which to base it.'

Padfield added: 'One of the crucial issues is the extent to which Doug Ellis wants to retain a stake in the club or whether he is prepared to sell his entire share-holding.

'With Mr Ellis' involvement over so many years, I'd be very surprised if he didn't want some role in helping the best interests of the club.

'We would welcome that. If it was an informal role, not taking a front seat, I don't see what the fans could object to.'

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