Rivals set to unite to take over Villa

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The consortia headed by Michael Neville and Nicholas Padfield QC are considering joining forces in the battle to take control of Aston Villa.

Padfield is believed to have been approached by representatives of Neville with a view to holding talks over a possible liaison when the former returns from holiday in Corsica this week.

Neville, a lifelong Villa fan, tabled a £64m bid to buy the club last week, while Padfield, a deputy judge, heads the AV06 consortium.

A source close to AV06 said: "We have had approaches by representatives of other consortia, one of whom is a representative of Neville. We are considering opening discussions."

A joint bid would give Neville and Padfield more financial clout to challenge the other interested parties - the American billionaire Randy Lerner and the consortium fronted by Athole Still.

AV06 has already promised to provide Martin O'Neill with a £50m transfer kitty if he becomes the new manager.

Padfield said last night: "We are considering opening discussions with them [Neville's consortium], but haven't taken a firm decision. Nothing is going to happen until I return [from holiday] at the end of the week."