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By ESPN Staff

New-owner Lerner arrives at Villa Park

Aston Villa's prospective new owner Randy Lerner arrived at Villa Park this lunchtime to watch Martin O'Neill's side in action for the first time.

The American billionaire flew into England overnight and arrived at Villa Park two hours before the kick-off of the Barclays Premiership clash with Newcastle.

The 44-year-old, the owner of NFL side Cleveland Browns, was expected to receive a hero's welcome from a near-capacity 43,000 crowd.

Lerner is expected to formally take control of Villa within the next few days after there were no rival bids to his £62.6million offer to buy the Birmingham club.

Lerner needs 75% of the shares to assume complete control and is understood to already have acquired 63% of existing shares.

The takeover is a big boost to O'Neill who has stressed the need to bring in new players before the transfer window closes on Thursday at midnight.

The Villa manager confirmed on Friday that he would be meeting with Lerner sooner rather than later to recommend how much investment is needed in the squad after having three weeks to assess his players.

Celtic midfielder Stilian Petrov remains top of O'Neill's hit list and he is expected to step up his attempts to sign the Bulgaria international.