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
Commonwealth Games 2014 Opening Ceremony: Ewan McGregor launches Unicef charity fundraiser, making £2.5m in one night
Manchester United transfer news: Arturo Vidal subject of £39m bid
Sami Khedira, Isco and Angel di Maria among Real Madrid players up for grabs this summer
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers (and giant cans of Irn Bru) welcome in Glasgow's Games
Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 4 The Tory donor whose firm is one of Britain’s biggest tax avoiders - with HMRC's blessing
- 5 John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains