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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 15, 2006

Lerner hasn't won Villa battle yet, insists rival

Randy Lerner's bid to take over Aston Villa may not be as straightforward as it first seemed after the man fronting a rival consortium pledged to continue the battle for the club.

Nicholas Padfield QC, a deputy high court judge, heads the AV06 group which is believed to be putting together a £70million offer - £7million more than the American billionaire's package which has already been recommended as the preferred option.

'This is by no means over,' Padfield told The Independent.

'We are indefatigable in our efforts to secure the club because we have the club's interests at heart. We are not American, and want to fly the flag.'

Padfield refused to name the people behind his consortium but stressed the money was on place, saying: 'I'm not prepared to go into details but certainly we have billionaires.'

The possibility remains Lerner's group could join forces with one of the two other interested parties - local businessman Michael Neville and a group of foreign investors represented by former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson's agent Athole Still - to scupper Lerner's takeover.

Padfield said that 'irrevocable undertakings' given to Lerner will become void if another bid of five per cent or more above Lerner's is made, meaning any offer over £66million will be given consideration.

A formal offer could be made next week and it is believed Padfield's group would guarantee an instant transfer kitty of £30million to Martin O'Neill during the August transfer window.