Lerner secures Villa


Randy Lerner has succeeded in his bid to seize control of Aston Villa.

The 44-year-old US billionaire, who has been vying for a majority stake in the Midlands club with two British consortia, said through his takeover firm Reform Acquisitions that "valid acceptances had been received" at 17:00 BST yesterday.

As a result he will acquire the 59.69 per cent stake in the club formerly owned by Jack Petchey and current chairman Doug Ellis.

His bid succeeded because his two rivals, Michael Neville and Nicolas Padfield, could not match the size of his £62.6 million bid for the club.

Villa fan Neville, conceding defeat, said: "I have come to the conclusion that, together with the brilliant Martin O'Neill as manager, Randy Lerner and his team have the right credentials, the necessary finances and the pooled resources to restore the club to where all of us supporters want to see it."

Now that the Villa board has accepted his offer, Lerner is expected to move to Britain to take control of his new acquisition.

As he does not control more than 75 per cent of the club, however, he will not be able to meddle in the transfer dealings of new manager O'Neill, who has until August 31st to wrap up new signings for the new season.

Lerner, who has been the owner of the Cleveland Browns franchise in the NFL since October 2002, is not the first US businessman to take control of a Premiership club as Malcolm Glazer famously bought Manchester United in May 2005 for $1.4 billion (£743,000).

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