A couple of weeks ago, with Aston Villa supporter outrage growing at the faltering fortunes of their club, one sentence from Randy Lerner’s statement put out the raging fires of calls for Lambert’s head and unrest about the board’s ambition.
“As regards my personal role at the club and the steady rumours of a sale, I will address these after the season,” said Villa chairman Randy Lerner.
If the overall statement was ambiguous to say the least, that particular sentence seemed to suspend supporter discontentment. Of course, part of the reason behind the timing was to focus rallying together the club and supporters to deal with the task in hand against Hull and securing Premier League survival.
Credit where it’s due, from a club that has been much maligned for its clumsy PR approach, it did the job and it was at last a promise of some straight-talking to come (hopefully). One thing that the statement also did suggest was an Aston Villa takeover was imminent. If it wasn’t, then Lerner would have surely have flat-out denied all takeover rumours. Surely, the club wouldn’t be as so cynical to put out a statement to take the heat off for a while?
I wrote in the Daily Mail last week that Aston Villa were a club in limbo, so when that Lerner statement drops, we better have a clearer idea of our destiny (at least in the short-term).
The club have done a good job of keeping the issue secret. There’s been a lot of guess work and speculation, but here’s a little of what MOMS knows.
The Aston Villa takeover is a done deal?
The feeling from speaking to a few journalists last week is the take-over is a done deal already. One journalist claims to be in touch with the buyer, wherever that is true or not is another matter. Certainly, the reason they haven’t spilled the beans yet is they could be under a strict embargo. We’ll soon see.
There were also suspicions from various things that happened at the final home game against Hull City that any new owners may have been present at the game. Without compromising anybody, certain decisions were made that seemed to indicate the club didn’t want to take any chances when it came to keeping up appearances. However, it has to be added that the American visitors could have been the various American fans that made a pilgrimage to Villa Park.
The Larry Ellison rumour.
A few Villa sites have spun stories based on Stan Collymore’s throw away comment that American billionaire Larry Ellison was rumoured to have been at the Hull game. Collymore never said Ellison was actually at the ground. He had mentioned there were rumours and of course, he’s just simply raising it as a discussion point for his radio show. Stan did the same with the Redbull rumours and has since stated that ‘his sources’ indicate that Lerner will just come out with a statement to say – the club is up for sale, but no buyer is fixed in place.
There was a picture doing the rounds on social media of Ellison wearing a baseball cap supposedly at Villa Park, way before the Hull City game. You shouldn’t consider the photo legit for a second,, when the power of photoshop can create a picture for any agenda.
Ellison is actually an old rumour. One that predates the rumoured take-over by the owners of the Texan Rangers baseball team, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson (which seemed to be based on the fact Villa had arranged to preseason games in Texas).
The only proper news stories about Ellison buying a sports team has been the possibility of the owner of Oracle teaming up with David Geffen and Oprah Winfrey to buy the basketball team, the LA Clippers for a tidy sum of $750 million plus. I doubt he’d then look at buying the Villa afterwards.
He’s offspring operate in the film world with his daughter Megan especially making waves in Hollywood, as the go-to-girl to greenlight and fund films. She has good taste too, producing American Hustler, Her, The Master and… His son is also into
Unless Ellison has some bigger plan that Villa is a part of, it seems too much of a long-shot.
Other American red herrings?
The co-owners of the Texan Rangers baseball team, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson were other American fatcats rumoured to be sniffing around, but that seemed a lazy link due to Villa having a couple of preseason games in Texas. There’s other names too, but lets not bore ourselves with them here.
Lerner stays but attracts a new financial partner/co-owner
I don’t see this as any kind of final solution to Villa’s long-term ambition. There had been rumours Lerner was seeking additional financial muscle a few years ago, when Manchester City’s rise made Champion’s League qualification an even more distant possibility for Aston Villa. Such additional financial back-up may have been more useful when the club had some momentum, although to be fair, Villa were one of the top spenders in the league at the time. Certainly any thoughts of a partner for Lerner must have been dead in the water at the time of the appointment of Alex McLeish, as that was a move to trigger a financial damage limitation mindset at the club. A new broom is needed rather than sprinkling some sugar over something that is already rotten.
Business as usual
A very similar outcome would be Randy Lerner staying on and keeping the services of Paul Lambert, and coming out with a statement that the ‘parameter’s have expanded and with deadwood off the wage bill, Lambert will be privy to the loosening of the purse strings. Essentially, that would be a cop out and mean this season was a complete waste.
Lerner and Lambert have lost a lot of trust from supporters and any mitigation and excuses such as injuries really doesn’t wash. 38 points in a season is relegation form and any manager of Aston Villa should be sacked. The tactics have been awful (Villa top the league in the most long balls played) and the record-breakingly bad home records of the last two seasons under Lambert speak for themselves.
Maintaining the current status quo after four relegation battles on the trot and a lack of clean-cut vision would be unacceptable.
Lerner just says the club is up for sale
The potential situation where Lerner just says the club is up for sale with no buyer in place, is perhaps the worst case scenario. The limbo and uncertainty would continue. Lambert would no doubt stay in the manager’s job, but in the awkward position where he doesn’t know what the future would bring. If a buyer isn’t ready, then the club’s spending will remain conservative. Surely Lerner has sorted a buyer out, if not, then it’s just another example of his ownership letting Villa down.
In short, a new broom is needed on several layers at the club to clear out the current board, manager, selected players and some club staff. A new ethos needs instilling at the club from top to bottom. Essentially, they have to become a football club again that has pride, values and direction. Enough is enough.