Deadline approaches for Lerner's Villa bid

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Randy Lerner should discover today if the path is clear for him to become the new unopposed owner of Aston Villa. The American billionaire had his £62.6m offer accepted by Villa on 14 August and it was recommended for acceptance by shareholders.

Any rival consortium has to make an offer five per cent higher than the Lerner bid by midnight tonight to disrupt the plans of the owner of the Cleveland Browns. But it is looking increasingly unlikely that any alternative offer will be put to the Villa chairman, Doug Ellis.

The consortia led by lifelong Villa fan Michael Neville and deputy judge Nicholas Padfield respectively had hopes of rivalling Lerner but there has been little sign of any movement from the two parties.

In effect, it means that Ellis and Jack Petchey will be able to transfer their combined shareholding of 57 per cent to Lerner by the weekend barring any 11th-hour developments.

Significantly, Lerner has been liaising closely with the new Villa manger, Martin O'Neill, who was the first choice of the American to succeed David O'Leary.

Funds will be in place to bring in new signings although O'Neill will have to work fast to strengthen his squad with the transfer window closing next Thursday.