Randy Lerner, the US owner of Premier League perennials Aston Villa, has announced he is ready to sell the club.
Lerner assumed control of the Birmingham club back in 2006 after agreeing a UK£62.6 million takeover with the board – then chaired by Sir Doug Ellis.
In a statement published on the club’s website on Monday, Lerner said: “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.
“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.”
He continued: “On a practical level, the club will continue with its normal operations and plans for the summer. I’ve no doubt that the core staff at both Villa Park and Bodmoor Heath, to whom I owe a massive debt of friendship and loyalty, will continue to guide and protect the club through this period of transition according to their collective sense of professional pride and long term service to Villa – the vast majority having preceded my tenure.”
Reports in the British press suggest that the 51-year-old, who formerly owned National Football League (NFL) outfit the Cleveland Browns, will look for between UK£150 million and UK£200 million for the club.
Upon completing the takeover in August 2006, Lerner said: “It is my belief and the basis of my bid that Aston Villa can compete at the highest level within the Premiership and in Europe.”
The club narrowly avoided relegation this season, finishing 15th in the Premier League table, just five points above Championship-bound Norwich City.
Bank of AmericaMerrill Lynch has been appointed to advise on the sale.