Randy Lerner

Getty Images

American owner Randy Lerner issues angry Aston Villa statement

Leave a comment

Tell it like it really is, Randy.

Following Aston Villa’s relegation from the Premier League last weekend, American owner Randy Lerner has penned an emotional open letter on the club website.

[ MORE: Ronaldo out injured? ]

Lerner, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns, has been trying to sell Villa for the last few years but has failed to offload the former European Champions and fans have called for him to leave all season.

Villa’s fans feel like they have been failed with star players like Fabian Delph, Christian Benteke, Ashley Young and James Milner have all been sold during Lerner’s reign. In recent games they’ve been protesting against Lerner by holding up banners and also booing their own players.

[ MORE: Wenger’s message to Arsenal fans ]

The Midlands club have amassed just 16 points from 34 games this season and have just three wins to their name. This is bad. Really bad.

In the statement below Lerner lets rip and despite reports suggesting a consortium of investors based in Europe and the UK are close to buying Villa, he made no remarks about that.

Lerner did make one thing clear: he is to blame for Villa’s relegation from the top-flight for the first time since 1987.

A nagging sense of inevitability set in against Leicester City despite the late lead we enjoyed. Can’t say why although I doubt I’m alone…

How many seasons after all can one hold on and hope to slide through? That is not Aston Villa. That kind of desperate existence is totally unacceptable, unbearable and totally incompatible with Villa’s glorious past. That is not what, or why, I looked to get involved back then and it is why I’ve looked for some time to make a change. I can say certainly in good faith that I have tried to sell since my May 2014 announcement and put our beloved club in better suited hands – but that hasn’t happened.

I write to Villa supporters to make clear that this relegation lies at my feet and no one else’s. And because I believe in Aston Villa and know it will come back stronger and more able, with love and care for the community it serves, with the edge and attitude it must have to represent our history and tradition. Memories of Acorns on the shirt, and Ashley Young scoring a late winner against Everton still romantically nourish me. I know Villa will return better, stronger.

I will continue to try to put the club into worthy hands as I have, and also do my best to position Villa for the quickest possible return to its rightful place among England’s elite.

R Lerner

Sherwood gets shaky ‘vote of confidence’ from Villa owner

Leave a comment

As far as “votes of confidence” being given to an under-fire manager go, Tim Sherwood received what can only be described as an iffy reaffirmation from Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner, via non-executive board member Charles Krulak, on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Krulak acknowledged Villa fans’ discontent with the way their 2015-16 Premier League campaign has begun (currently 18th in the league with one win from eight games), and while dispelling the idea Sherwood’s job is already on the line, stopped well short of saying, “He’s our guy and we’re sticking with him” — quotes from the Guardian:

“We realize there is concern amongst our supporters. I see that on their message boards and I see that on social media as well.

“This is a critical point in a season, we know. I speak to Randy just about every day and we are still convinced we have good players and a good team.

“There has been a bit of bad luck along the way. To say Tim Sherwood has to win those games to survive is pure speculation. Randy has always wanted continuity and someone there for the long term.”

Sherwood’s side was always going to struggle to start the season after losing Christian Benteke in the summer — though, well over the $50 million received was reinvested into the squad — but we must remember that the year is 2015, and with that, managers are constantly getting less and less time to right the ship before being cast overboard.

It gets no easier for Villa this weekend — or does it? — as they visit Stamford Bridge to take on the defending champions, Chelsea (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra).

Report: Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner set to sell team to UK group

2 Comments

There’s nothing new in an Aston Villa sale report, but this one has a twist.

According to Neil Moxley of the Sunday People, a sale agreement has reached an advanced stage as a UK-based ownership group prepares to acquire a majority stake in the club.

News that a domestic owner will be set to take over the club is sure to buoy fans who have seen a vast increase in overseas ownership of Premier League clubs over the past few years.

American majority owner Randy Lerner has bore much of the burden for the club’s decline over the past few years, with the team trending downwards after a promising start to his ownership tenure. Fans have hit back at Lerner for not investing in the club’s player pool, and it seems to have taken its toll.

Lerner sold the Cleveland Browns three years ago for upwards of $1 billion, and looks ready to dump the Premier League club too. The price has not been set in stone, with the club’s Premier League status not assured as of yet. The report seems to imply that a pair of arrangements have been agreed upon, contingent upon the club’s status for next season. Villa remains a precarious three points above the relegation zone, with newly appointed manager Tim Sherwood having boosted the squad’s performance.

According to Moxley, the sale will be for $223 million – over double the $94 million Lerner paid for the club back in 2007 – should Villa stay in the Premier League.

Although Lerner has denied it or simply avoided the question, UK media has steadfastly reported for nearly a year that Lerner put the team up for sale in May of 2014, and has been looking for a buyer since. Moxley’s report states that talks have been ongoing between Lerner and the current prospective buyer for a few months now. Due to the duality of the reported agreement contingent upon the club’s Premier League status, it’s likely any announcement would come after the conclusion of the season.

Aston Villa finished sixth in the Premier League table in each of the first three years Lerner was at the helm, but they fell to ninth in the 2010/11 season and have finished in the bottom quarter of the table every season since.

Report: Bob Bradley in the running for Aston Villa DOF job

5 Comments

With Aston Villa desperately looking to stave off relegation, Randy Lerner is attempting a serious shakeup at Villa Park and put behind them years of flirting with the drop. Apparently part of that shakeup includes a big new job.

According to a report on ESPNFC, Lerner is looking to fill a Director of Football job, and one of the names he’s looking towards is a fellow American, Bob Bradley.

Bradley is incredibly well connected thanks to his versatile work resume, and had expressed interest in the vacant Villa managing job a number of years ago. In addition, the report states Lerner and chief executive Tom Fox hold respect for Bradley’s prior work and would be interested in teaming up with the former USMNT head coach.

The report states Lerner is looking to get his new front office set in stone “as soon as possible,” but with Villa struggling to secure its place in the Premier League next season, it’s possible many of the candidates will wait to see whether the club maintains its top-flight status or falls to the Championship before truly signing on. It’s likely this is a position that won’t be filled until the summer after things at the bottom of the table shake out.

Bradley is currently the manager of Norwegian side Sabaek, whom he joined early last year and has enjoyed success during his time abroad. Despite Villa’s struggles the past few years, the club is still one of the larger and more stable ones in England, giving its position in the relegation zone even more surprise. Consequently, the job would be a relatively attractive one even if the team does end up relegated for the first time since 1987. However, candidates would likely want to make sure they have power to make decisions, with Lerner known to keep his hand in many of the dealings in the past.

According to the report, another candidate vying for the job is Damien Comolli, a man with plenty of European experience in the Director of Football position at Tottenham and Liverpool, and has worked in the scouting and player recruitment departments at Arsenal, Monaco, and St. Etienne.

Aston Villa welcomes back previously marginalized players

Leave a comment

Aston Villa want to avoid yet another season in which they struggle against the drop. However, that might be difficult: Owner Randy Lerner put the club up for sale at the start of the summer, and has yet to find a willing buyer. As such, Villa have been restrained in the transfer market, with Lerner making it clear that money can be spent only if current players are sold.

Villa have already brought in three players on the cheap, and all are Premier League veterans: Philippe Senderos, Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson. But they’ve also decided to turn to players that were marginalized after Paul Lambert arrived at the club two years ago.

The infamous “Bomb Squad,” high-paid players that have been frozen out over much of the past 24 months, are to make a return next season, ensuring Lerner gets at least a bit of a return on his investment. While Shay Given is never likely to feature heavily, as Villa have Brad Guzan as their first choice goalkeeper, there are other big names looking to finally make their mark.

Darren Bent was Villa’s record signing in January 2011. While he helped the club avoid relegation that season, he’s made little of an impression since. He lost his starting place to Christian Benteke in August 2012, and went on loan to Fulham for the 2013-2014 season.

But despite Bent’s paltry three goals last season, Villa are determined to get some use out of him, particularly with Benteke and Libor Kozák still recovering from injury. The forward came good in his first appearance of the preseason, grabbing a brace against League Two side Mansfield on Thursday evening.

Another man looking to impress is Charles N’Zogbia. The winger tore his Achilles while on vacation last June, and had not played since. However, Lambert seemed pleased with his performance on Thursday, and with Marc Albrighton now gone, N’Zogbia could see plenty of time this season.

Finally, there’s Alan Hutton. The defender has not played for Villa since the 2011-2012 season, when he was brought in by fellow Scot Alex McLeish. Instead, he’s seen loan spells at Nottingham Forest, Mallorca and Bolton Wanderers. But with Matthew Lowton disappointing last season, it’s likely Hutton will find himself back in the first team — especially since Villa rejected an offer from West Bromwich Albion last week.

Aston Villa are set to leave for Texas, where they will play FC Dallas on July 23 and Houston Dynamo on July 26. Those two games could give Lambert even more of an idea as to whether the previously marginalized players should be welcomed back with open arms.