New British consortium enters fray to take over Aston Villa

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The Independent Online

The battle to take control of Aston Villa is intensifying, with a British-based consortium known as AV06 entering the fray.

Deputy high court judge and leading solicitor Nicholas Padfield QC is understood to be at the helm of the new takeover bid. The Villa chairman, Doug Ellis, is believed to have already received a number of proposals from Padfield and his unnamed backers. AV06 have plans in place for appointing David O'Leary's successor and have lined up a wishlist of players. Consortium sources are confident their bid is as solid and competent as others on the table, and are optimistic of initially making Villa a top-10 side.

Padfield, an Oxford University graduate, and his consortium members have joined the Villa fan Michael Neville and American businessman Randy Lerner in the race to take over Villa.

A source close to the consortium said: "Our money is as good as anyone's and is already in place and we will make money available for players and look after the well-being of the club."

It could develop into a battle with Neville as doubts remain as to whether Lerner, the owner of the NFL team Cleveland Browns, will reactivate his interest after pulling out on Wednesday following talks with Ellis.

Neville, who has pledged up to £20m available to Villa's new manager should his consortium triumph, will soon formally speak to Ellis after making a £64m bid on Wednesday.

Lerner's name has also been linked to a takeover bid at Everton, where a British-based Russian businessman is thought to be considering bankrolling the Everton shareholder Paul Gregg in his attempts to wrest control of the club from Bill Kenwright.

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