With Aston Villa rumoured to be up for sale with current owner Randy Lerner, blogger Matt Turvey looks at the hypothetical impact selling the club could have.
In recent months, much has been written about the possibility of current owner Randy Lerner selling Aston Villa as a going concern. Whether there is a shred of truth in such reports is, as ever, purely conjecture.
What I wanted to cover in this week’s piece was a look at how the club might be if Villa’s quiet owner decides he has finally had enough of life in B6.
I should stress now that I’m not writing this piece with the inference of some kind of insider knowledge of a sale, but rather to look at how things might pan out if, as some fans seem to desire, Lerner sells up.
All in all, Lerner’s ownership of Villa has had a fair share of ups and downs. From the peak of three sixth placed finishes, the club are arguably at their lowest ebb of the American’s ownership with survival in the Premier League far from a certainty.
So, with the trajectory of the club being downward in recent times, it may seem wholly logical and feasible that selling the club is the best thing to do for the fans. After all, who wouldn’t want a return to spending and success?
The reality of a sale offers far less clear cut answers though. Without even getting into whether the hypothetical new owner would be more or less rich of outspoken - insert trait here - there’s enough on the page already to know that Lerner might get the last laugh.
Why? Should Lerner choose to sell the club he will, in all reality, take a short term hit on the sale value of the club, magnified somewhat if the club do tumble into the Championship.
However, as the club’s current debt situation reflects, Villa are up to their neck in Lerner’s money.
So the most likely possibility would be that Lerner would sell the club at a cheaper rate, take the hit, but still own the debt.
In this instance, those free loans he has been providing to the club may well become shackles that cripple the club. This is because the debt, as it currently stands, is wholly in-house.
Villa are, as we all know, in debt though that is with the owner so it;s fairly low risk, substantially lower than if Villa were out of pocket by£125million to a bank or other financial institution.
Should Lerner sell the club but keep the debt, the same amount of debt could become a serious millstone.
Not only would the new owners have to have paid out a sum to buy the club as it stands, they would also have debt to contend with.
Some may suggest that any prospective owner could pay off the debt as part of a purchase, but the reality is that Villa are simply not good value as a purchase for this to make sense.
Paying off the debt of the club and buying Villa would set back any investor £200million or more. Ask yourself this, is that good value for a club that could potentially be in the Championship next season?
The answer is obviously no because there are other clubs who offer better value - Everton for example - which would cost far less than Villa and would be better in footballing and financial terms.
What may be best for Villa, contrary to some of the current angry fan feeling is for Lerner to stick around, get the club back to an even keel and then sell.
It may not be ideal, and fans may be upset with the current board, but selling could bring even darker days to Villa Park.
Selling, especially if the club descend into the Championship, could be the worst thing to happen to the club.
Next time you consider that Lerner may not be the right man for the role at present, remember removing him may make things far worse.
You can follow Matt Turvey’s regular opinions at his own site, Aston Villa Life at www.astonvillalife.com, via the site’s Twitter account @astonvillalife, or via his own Twitter account @MatthewSTurvey.