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
Toni Kroos admits switch to Manchester United is 'a possibility for me'
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 - player ratings: Who scored highest for the Gunners – Mesut Ozil or Lukas Podolski?
The 10 funniest football chants revealed, with poll naming West Ham supporters as 'wittiest in the country'
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1: Arjen Robben accused of being a 'very good diver' by Arsene Wenger after Gunners exit Champions League
Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker
- 1 Boy George: Bad karma
- 2 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 3 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised