Rumours have been doing the rounds for a few months now, regarding whether or not Aston Villa are up for sale. Today, Randy Lerner issued a direct statement. A statement he could have used to deny these rumours and reaffirm his commitment to the club. However, he didn't do this.
What can we read into this statement then?
To me, it seems clear confirmation that the club is up for sale. Randy Lerner may not have invested as heavily in the club (as the fans would have liked) over the past 4 years but, he is still a very shrewd businessman. Would he really issue a statement like this, so obviously making it clear that he is open to a sale of the club, without having a buyer in place? By doing this, he is very unlikely to be able to demand the sort of money that is being talked about in a potential sale. He is owed nearly £200m by the club and bought us for £63m. He will undoubtedly want to recoup as much of his investment as possible. By making it so obvious that he wants to sell the club he is putting himself in a poor position as a seller. Therefore, not only does this statement indicate to me that he wants to sell, it tells me that there is a buyer in place.
What about the timing of the statement?
This latest statement has been released at around 4pm on Easter Sunday. Why? Surely it could have waited. Perhaps, after numerous newspapers running with the story, someone has hit the nail on the head, or at least, an article has come a little too close to home. It is unlikely that this statement was planned. Are the club being reactive or proactive? Although it is speculation, we may see further stories breaking in the coming days and in anticipation of this Aston Villa may feel that they need to stay ahead of the game instead of allowing the media to fuel further rumours.
Why doesn't he just admit we're for sale?
After the statements that have been issued this week and the circus surrounding the club at the moment, this could have far more damaging effects. Paul Faulkner wanted Villa fans to pull together, to be positive and support the club. Randy himself, praised Lambert for his commitment to the club. To admit that he wanted to sell the club now, although it may be welcomed by fans, would demonstrate a lack of commitment. In addition to this, Paul Lambert's men, despite yesterdays priceless point, are still teetering on the brink of relegation and may yet still drop down a division. It may be an exciting time for fans, but the players and management, may see it sightly differently. Talk of a potential sale could be very unsettling for our current squad, a squad that probably have enough weighing on their minds already. Randy Lerner needs to continue with his message of solidarity and commitment, the players need to show these same attributes for the remaining 4 games.
It may still transpire that this statement is being completely misunderstood and that Randy has no intention of selling the club. It may be that the club is for sale but they have had minimal interest to date, or at least they are in early discussions with interested parties but next year will see vastly improved revenue streams for Premier League clubs, with the new television deal. Aston Villa remains a famous club, recognised around the world. They have fallen behind many clubs in recent years but they should still be a fantastic proposition for potential buyers, far more so than the majority of clubs in the country.
One name that has been mentioned, in regards to a potential buyer, is Larry Ellison. With a personal wealth of $49bn he is one of the world's richest men, eclipsing the likes of Roman Abramovich ($9bn). Many fans may not know too much about Mr Ellison and his interest (or lack of) remains as speculation but I have heard from one American (a Manchester United fan) who had the following words to say about him:
Let us know what you think.
Don’t get your hopes up too much, Villa fans. Has this whet your appetite?