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Villa up for sale with 'fickle' game blamed

ESPN staff
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Aston Villa reached the League Cup final during Randy Lerner's ownership, but lost to Manchester United © PA Photos
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Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has put the Premier League club up for sale.

Lerner hinted earlier this season that he was considering his own position as Villa battled against relegation for a third successive season and it has been confirmed that the New Yorker wishes to off-load his interest in the Birmingham side.

Lerner has struggled to convince Villa supporters that he has been fully committed to building the former European champions into a powerhouse in English football since he acquired the club from Doug Ellis in 2006.

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While initial optimism and investment under the watch of manager Martin O'Neill was encouraging, Villa have embarked on a cost-cutting programme in recent seasons that has left managers Alex McLeish and his successor Paul Lambert struggling to produce winning teams.

Now Lerner has released an anticipated statement confirming his desire to terminate his tenure as Villa's owner, as he confirmed he has instructed his bank to find a buyer for the club.

"Several weeks back I said that following the end of the season I would clarify my future role with the club, and address what had become seemingly constant rumours of a sale," Lerner said.

"I have come to know well that fates are fickle in the business of English football. And I feel that I have pushed mine well past the limit. The last several seasons have been week in, week out battles and having now come through this last season unfortunately limping amidst very meaningful injuries and constant sale rumours, I feel further that now is the time for me to look for new ownership and thus new leadership.

"I have asked the world of Paul Lambert and Paul Faulkner and they have both delivered selflessly. On a personal level it is time for me, like the Shunammite, to dwell among my own and get on with other aspects of my career, following a sale.

Aston Villa's record during Lerner's ownership

  • 2006-07

    Premier League: 11th | FA Cup: R3 | League Cup: R4
  • 2007-08

    Premier League: 6th | FA Cup: R3 | League Cup: R3
  • 2008-09

    Premier League: 6th | FA Cup: R5 | League Cup: R4
  • 2009-10

    Premier League: 6th | FA Cup: SF | League Cup: F
  • 2010-11

    Premier League: 9th | FA Cup: R5 | League Cup: QF
  • 2011-12

    Premier League: 16th | FA Cup | R4 | League Cup: R3
  • 2012-13

    Premier League: 15th | FA Cup: R4 | League Cup: SF
  • 2013-14

    Premier League: 15th | FA Cup: R3 | League Cup: R3

"Above all, the debt I owe Aston Villa whether as owner, Chairman, custodian or simply as a fan is to put the club first. To make good on that debt, I owe it to Villa to move on, and look for fresh, invigorated leadership, if in my heart I feel I can no longer do the job.

"During my time with Villa, I have tried to strengthen and improve the club's physical infrastructure both at Villa Park and Bodymoor Heath while also trying to carry on the McGregor tradition of being mindful of the local community we serve.

"I can see now that it is time, if possible, to hand these privileges and responsibilities to the next person or group to take the club forward. I am appreciative of the support I have received, even in these last years of comparative struggle when criticism was due, and will look on with others - with fingers crossed, for stronger future performance appropriate to our size and heritage.

"Finally, in light of the above, I have engaged Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the sale of Aston Villa."

Both the Independent and Daily Telegraph newspapers in England reported last month that potential owners of Villa were positioning themselves ahead of this expected announcement from Lerner to sell the club.

Meanwhile, Villa manager Paul Lambert confirmed after Sunday's final Premier League game of the season at Tottenham that he was keen to remain in his post even if there is a change of ownership at the club.

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