Lerner: I watched Villa for years


US billionaire Randy Lerner has said his decision to takeover Aston Villa, which today saw him acquire 85.5 per cent of the club's shares, was made after years of observation.

The 44-year-old completed his seizure of control at Upton Park today, building on his August 25th purchase of former chairman Doug Ellis' 59.69 per cent stake in the club.

Now he has acquired over 75 per cent of the club's shares he will be able to have a say in matters related to the team's management, including overseeing new manager Martin O'Neill's transfer dealings.

The next step for Lerner is to reach the 90 per cent mark, when he will be able to take the club into private ownership by buying out the remaining shares.

"Aston Villa was a club I had already thought about for a long time as I became more familiar with the Premier League over the last three or four years," Lerner admitted.

"It wasn't a lifelong thing. It would be dishonest and disingenuous for me to suggest it was. It seemed like an opportunity to make a little bit of a difference."

Lerner, who has also owned the Cleveland Browns franchise in the NFL for nearly four years, described O'Neill as "great".

The Scot has secured two home wins and a well-earned draw at Arsenal so far in this year's Premiership campaign.

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