Aston Villa could face £200m American takeover providing they avoid Premier League relegation
Villa are already owned by American Randy Lerner but an American-based consortium is being linked with a big-money takeover
Friday 18 April 2014
Aston Villa are being linked with a reported £200m American takeover, providing they avoid relegation and remain in the Premier League next season.
The club already have an American owner in the form of businessman Randy Lerner, but The Telegraph are claiming that an American consortium fronted by two billionaires are looking to buy the Midlands club as long as they avoid the dreaded drop to the Championship.
The conditional takeover is due to Villa’s alarming run of four straight defeats, and when a potential £40m in television revenue is on the line for Premier League survival, the proposed new owners will wait until Villa’s fate has been settled.
The reports go on to suggest that the consortium would prefer to invest heavily in the squad in an attempt to turn around their recent slump over the past two seasons. There is no indication whether Paul Lambert would be retained as manager, given his preference to develop young, English talent rather than splash out on foreign experience.
The manager has admitted that Villa will need to change their approach when it comes to transfers in order to avoid a relegation scrap every year, conceding that they can’t rely solely on paying small fees for inexperienced players.
Supporters have become frustrated with what they’ve seen at Villa Park from the current owner, but despite chief executive Paul Faulkner insisting the club were not for sale as recently as February, sources suggest that potential buyers have made contact with an agency based in the United States of America.
The news will lift spirits at Villa after a turbulent week saw assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa suspended pending an investigation, following reported allegations of bullying despite claims that it is an attempt from Lerner to keep the club up and make it as attractive as possible to potential buyers.
Lerner, 52, bought the club for £52.6m in 2006 and has invested another £250m in player purchases. The American is holding out for an offer closer to what he has spent, but a formal bid of £200m would be hard to refuse.
He also chose to waive £90.1m owed to him in loans, choosing instead to convert the sum into equity, with the club losing £51.8m in 2012-13. Having originally made significant investment in the squad when Martin O’Neill was in charge to aid a top-six finish, Lerner has since made cutbacks on the spending , and it is this along with his prolonged absence from the club’s home ground that has led to unhappy fans accusing him of being and absent owner. It is not known if he has attended a match this year.
There is also a certain ill-feeling towards Lerner and Faulkner for the recent managerial appointments, with Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish and Lambert all coming in with little success since O’Neill left.
Shahid Khan bought Fulham at the beginning of the season after Mohamed Al-Fayed chose to sell the west London club for £190m, although the price was deemed inflated due to the club’s prime location in the capital.
There are currently six American owners in the Premier League, although that does include Lerner so that number would not increase should the consortium mount a successful takeover. As it stands, Arsenal, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester United and Sunderland are also owned by American businessman.
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