Earlier this week, Randy Lerner, the American owner of Premier League side Aston Villa, announced his intention to sell the club. Lerner took over in 2006, with his ownership at first looked on as positive for the claret-and-blue. Under manager Martin O’Neill, the club even challenged for England’s final spot in the Champions League.
But when O’Neill left the club just days before the start of the 2010-2011 season, it soon became clear that the club was in a bit of a mess. The manager had signed players on high wages to long-term contracts, and most of those players, it transpired, were not of Premier League quality.
Lerner cracked down. With Paul Lambert in charge, the club has focused on inexpensive players, bringing in talent from the lower divisions in England as well as young players from northern Europe. But the strategy hasn’t worked. Since O’Neill left, the Villa have been in a relegation battle, failing to finish above 15th for the last three seasons.
It’s time to sell. Villa fans understand, and appreciate, this fact. But they would also appreciate a quick sale. The Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust, an organization created to advance the views of the clubs’ fans at both the national and club level, have directed a statement to Lerner.
The AVST make clear that they appreciate the respect the Villa owner showed to the club’s heritage in his time in charge. But they also have a clear wish: “We would ask that the sale is completed as quickly as possible in order that the new owner can put his team in place, and make the required changes to ensure that Aston Villa become a competitive force on the field again.”
Any soccer fan knows that the offseason is essential in determining the team’s upcoming season. From the amount of money available for transfers to the manager that will lead the club to the amount of time that new teammates will be able to spend training with the side before the season starts, it all hinges on a well-planned off-season. No wonder Villa fans are asking for the future of their club to be resolved quickly.