Ellis on way out as Villa agree deal with Lerner
American billionaire Randy Lerner is poised to take over Aston Villa after the club announced they had accepted the terms of his offer.
Villa made a statement to the Stock Exchange this morning recommending that shareholders accept the bid from Cleveland Browns owner Lerner, which values the club at £62.6million.
Lerner's takeover will end the long reign of 82-year-old chairman Doug Ellis, who has run the club since 1982 and also had an earlier spell at the helm.
Ellis said: 'It has been my sincere pleasure to have been involved with Aston Villa these many years, both as chairman and as a substantial shareholder. The club has been an enormous and immensely enjoyable part of my life.
'I wish to thank the many staff at Aston Villa over the years for making the club what it has been and what it is. I am sure this transaction will be the beginning of a new chapter in Aston Villa's proud history.'
Lerner, who inherited most of his fortune from his father Al, the founder of the MBNA credit card company, had headed one of a number of consortia hoping to buy out Ellis.
Local businessman and fan Michael Neville led one group while another was put together by Nicholas Padfield QC. Athole Still, the agent of former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, was also believed to be interested in taking over.
Ellis, who had heart bypass surgery last year and has previously undergone treatment for cancer, recently announced he was willing to sell his 39% stake.
Talks were instigated with interested parties but Lerner, who conducted his offer through his company Reform Acquisitions Ltd, emerged as the favourite over the weekend after earlier appearing to drop out.
Lerner said: 'It is my belief and the basis for my bid to acquire Aston Villa Football club that it can compete at the highest level within the Premiership and in Europe.
'The club has a rich history and a long tradition of passionate fan support.'
Villa's fortunes have slumped in recent seasons with the club only managing 16th place in the Premiership.
There was unrest over the summer with a statement, purportedly from the players, criticising Ellis and his running of the club.
Ellis, who first took charge from 1968-75 before returning seven years later, earned the nickname `Deadly Doug' for his reputation for sacking managers.
He worked with 14 managers during his time, the latest being Martin O'Neill, who was appointed earlier this month following the departure of David O'Leary.