Neville accepts defeat and hails Lerner and Ellis
Friday 25 August 2006
Michael Neville ended his 10-month quest to take control of Aston Villa yesterday and hailed Randy Lerner, the American billionaire who has had a formal bid of £64.4m accepted and endorsed by the club's board, as having "the right credentials" to revive the club in tandem with Martin O'Neill.
Neville, a West Midlands businessman, initially tried to buy Villa last October in association with the Comer brothers, two Hertfordshire-based Irish property developers. His attempts were rebuffed by Doug Ellis, the Villa chairman, but the lifelong supporter returned this summer at the head of a consortium called Aston Villa Investments Limited (AVIL).
In a statement, Neville accepted that "the overwhelming majority of supporters" believed the offer by the owner of the Cleveland Browns American football team gave Villa the best chance of a "potential return to glory". Lerner possessed "the right credentials and the necessary finances" to restore the club to where the fans wanted to see it.
Neville, who said AVIL was pulling out "in order not to jeopardise [Lerner's] takeover in any way", expressed regret that he would not be able to pursue his "dream" of involvement in running Villa. He also praised Ellis' "massive contribution" to the club. The 82-year-old chairman, he added, had been responsible for "the most fantastic foundation of any Premiership club".
A third consortium, headed by Nicholas Padfield QC, had pledged to top Lerner's bid with one of £70m before last night's midnight deadline for bidders.
O'Neill, described in Neville's statement as a "brilliant manager", has confirmed that he is determined to hold on to Gareth Barry as well as adding to his squad before the transfer window closes. Barry, a close-season target for Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur, had become unsettled under David O'Leary's stewardship, but has been appointed captain by O'Neill.
"Gareth was terrific," said O'Neill, assessing Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Reading in his first home match since becoming manager a month earlier. "He played really well and won it for us with a fantastic goal. He's a popular lad and we want to keep him. We're now in the throes of doing something about it."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal vs Aston Villa preview: I need to prove myself again at Villa, says Scott Sinclair
Transfer news and rumours LIVE: Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea, Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester City, United want Gareth Bale
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings: David Silva saves the day but which City star stole the show at Stamford Bridge?
Arsene Wenger photobombs Arsenal photo shoot - manages to look like famous 'Bigfoot' picture
Serena Williams wins Australia Open 2015: American beats Maria Sharapova in straight sets to claim a sixth title in Melbourne
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election