Skip to main content

English Premier League: Randy Lerner puts Aston Villa up for sale

By CNN Staff
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner (right) has put the English Premier League club up for sale.
Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner (right) has put the English Premier League club up for sale.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Randy Lerner decides to put EPL side Aston Villa up for sale
  • The American completed a takeover of the Midlands club in 2006
  • Lerner feels the time is right to take a break from football

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- He was one of a wave of American businessman to invest in an English Premier League club, but eight years down the line a weary Randy Lerner has beaten a retreat.

Lerner completed a £62.6 million ($105.7 million) takeover of Aston Villa from Doug Ellis back in 2006 -- one year after Malcolm Glazer won control of Manchester United, and one year before Tom Hicks and George Gillett bought Liverpool.

Yet despite enjoying early success at Villa Park with the club securing three straight sixth-place finishes under former manager Martin O'Neill, the 52-year-old has had to watch on in recent seasons as the team have struggled in the bottom half of the table.

The former owner of NFL team, the Cleveland Browns hinted last month that he was considering his position amid reports that a sale was imminent.

And he confirmed Monday that he has "engaged Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the club's sale" as he seeks a much-needed break from the world of football.

"I have come to know well that fates are fickle in the business of English football," Lerner said in an official statement.

"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 rumors, I feel further that now is the time for me to look for new ownership and thus new leadership."

He added: "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."

Much of Villa's success under O'Neill was aided by Lerner's willingness to invest millions on new players, such as Ashley Young, James Milner and Stewart Downing.

However, after ultimately being unable to break into the top four of the English Premier League and secure Champions League football, the American has had to embark on a cost-cutting program in recent seasons -- selling star players to rival clubs, including Young to Manchester United in 2011 and Milner to Manchester City in 2010.

The team's decline has led to some criticism of both Lerner's running of the club as well as the managers who have followed O'Neill -- Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish and Paul Lambert.

Lerner, though, is still grateful for the backing he has received from the majority of the club's supporters, while he is hoping Villa will go from strength to strength after his departure.

"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," he said.

Lerner added: "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."

While Lerner thanked Lambert for his efforts as manager since arriving in 2012, he did not mention the Scot's future.

Lambert may be disposed by the new owners following a disappointing season that culminated with the club finishing 15th.

Lerner's likely asking price for the club will be in the region of £200 million ($337.7 million), according to reports in the British media.

Read: Manchester City crowned champions

Read: Bayern celebrate Bundesliga title

Read: Madrid named most valuable football team

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT