According to The Telegraph, Randy Lerner has reached an agreement to sell Aston Villa, provided the club stays in the Premier League. An unidentified American group fronted by “two billionaires” has agreed to pay $200 million for the Birmingham-based club, a possibility that heightens the importance of securing a 26th straight year in the first division.
With the club in 14th place, Villa will likely stay up, securing all the financial perks that go with the top-flight status in the process. With four straight losses, however, the club’s survival is back in doubt, with the potential owners set to pass on the purchase if the club falls into the second division.
From Matt Law’s reporting:
It is understood an American consortium, fronted by two billionaires, wants to buy Villa but will withdraw from the deal if the team drop into the Championship …
Survival in the top flight would guarantee Villa at least £40 million in television revenue and would mean the club remains attractive to sponsors.
Early indications suggest the consortium would be prepared to invest heavily in trying to significantly improve Villa’s playing staff. It is unclear whether a takeover would affect the future of manager Paul Lambert.
The move would be a welcome one for fans who’ve come to question the club’s direction under Lerner. With Lambert also the becoming subject of supporter skepticism, the manager’s performance is sure to fall under increased scrutiny. If he fails, he’ll cost supporters the new ownership they’ve come to covet.
With 34 points, Villa are four points above the drop, but with three teams between themselves and 18th place Fulham, Lambert’s team a series of misfortunes would have to fall in place to send Villa down. If it can avoid all of those pitfalls, the club will likely turn away from a transfer policy based on value buys and youth purchases in its attempts resume a regular place in the top half of the table.
That place disappeared when Martin O’Neill left the club in 2010, with the Northern Ireland manager’s departure coinciding with a pair down of what had become a bloated payroll. After three consecutive sixth place finishes, Villa took up residence in the league’s bottom half, with Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish, and Paul Lambert having failed to right the team’s course.
With a solid home venue and a history that includes a European Cup, Villa has the potential to be the dominant club in England’s second-largest population center. To this point, however, Lerner has been unable to capture that potential.
With new ownership coming in, Villa fans have reason to hope a more ambitious approach will try to tap into that possibility. All the team has to do is stay up.
Two teams are set to bring in experienced players ahead of the new season, while another veteran has said his goodbye to his former club.
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D.C. United has reportedly signed veteran forward Sebastian Le Toux after spending last season with the Philadelphia Union and the Colorado Rapids.
According to SB Nation’s Black and Red United, Le Toux has inked a one-year deal with D.C. United. Le Toux has scored 57 goals in his time in MLS, with 50 of those goals coming with the Union.
Le Toux has also previously played for the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders.
Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers are reportedly set to sign long-time Sporting KC defender Chance Myers, who spent the last nine seasons with the Western Conference side.
The 29-year-old had made 147 appearances for Sporting KC since joining MLS, while adding two goals over that span.
Dax McCarty posted a heartfelt message to New York Red Bulls fans, players and staff following the veteran’s move to the Chicago Fire.
The midfielder was recently traded to the Eastern Conference side after the spending the last five-and-half years with the Red Bulls, where McCarty served as the team’s captain.
Virgil Van Dijk‘s quick rise in the Premier League has caught the attention of many around England, and one of the division’s greats has high hopes the Dutchman will join his former side in the future.
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Steven Gerrard has suggested that Liverpool come out and pursue Van Dijk, who joined Southampton back in 2015 from Scottish side Celtic.
Gerrard — who is set to take a coaching position with Liverpool’s academy — believes the budding star would be a strong fit for the Reds, however, the ex-midfielder realizes it’ll be a hard sell.
“Who I think we need, I would go and try and bid for Van Dijk from Southampton,” Gerrard told BT Sport. “But we’ve had enough of their players so that will probably go down like a lead balloon.”
The 25-year-old has made waves in England’s top flight after quickly proving to be one of the division’s top defenders and helping guide the Saints towards the top half of the table since his arrival.
With the NFL no longer the biggest show in town, San Diego could be bringing another football to the city in the near future.
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According to NBC 7 San Diego, FS Investors founder Mike Stone and former Qualcomm Vice Chairman Steve Altman are prepared to reveal their proposal on Monday that will bring a future MLS franchise to San Diego.
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The proposed move includes a stadium plan that will reside where the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. With the NFL franchise now playing in Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball are the only remaining professional team in the area, out of the five major sports in the U.S.
NBC 7 is also reporting that a future San Diego team would share its facility with the San Diego State Aztecs football team.
MLS is currently up to 22 teams entering the 2017 season, while Los Angeles FC is also tabbed to enter the league next year. David Beckham’s Miami project is also considered to be the league’s 24th team, and MLS is likely to hold off on further announcements regarding expansion until later in 2017.
If San Diego were to be chosen as an expansion site, the club would become the fourth to call California home in the current state of MLS, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and LA FC (2018).
In addition to San Diego, several other cities are currently vying to enter MLS in the future, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Charlotte.
Ryan Mason has undergone surgery following a scary collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill on Sunday.
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The Hull City midfielder was injured after knocking heads with Cahill during first half of the 2-0 defeat to the Blues. Nine minutes of first-half stoppage time were needed after Mason stayed down on the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
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It has been confirmed by the club that Mason suffered a skull fracture, while it is has also been speculated that the 25-year-old could have had bleeding on his brain.
Mason will remain hospitalized for the “next few days,” according to the Tigers.
“The Club can confirm that Ryan Mason sustained a skull fracture in our fixture at Chelsea this afternoon. He was taken to St Mary’s Hospital where he has undergone surgery.
“Ryan is in a stable condition and is expected to remain in hospital for the next few days.
“Everyone at the Club would like to express their sincere thanks for the excellent and swift care given to Ryan by both the Accident and Emergency department and Neurosurgery Unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
“A further update will be issued tomorrow.”
While Mason was forced off during the match due to the injury, Cahill managed to continue for Chelsea and scored the game’s second goal.