Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner today put the club up for sale.
The chairman released a statement this morning to finally end the speculation surrounding his future.
Villa secured their Premier League status last week and Lerner has instructed his bank to sell the club.
The American bought the claret and blues for £62.6m in 2006 and is believed to want around £200m after investing heavily in players and wages since.
He has cut back in the last two years – with many expecting his decision today – and admitted Villa need fresh investment.
Here is the full text of the statement:
"Several weeks back I said that following the end of the season I would clarify my future role with the Club, and address what had become seemingly constant rumours of a sale.
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. I have asked the world of Paul Lambert and Paul Faulkner and they have both delivered selflessly. 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.
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.
During my time with Villa, I have tried to strengthen and improve the Club’s physical infrastructure both at Villa Park and Bodymoor Heath while also trying to carry on the McGregor tradition of being mindful of the local community we serve. Above all in this effort is the connection the Club has made with Acorns; the caring, kindness and warmth that players, staff, managers and supporters have shown to Mr Strudley and Acorns has wiped away all disappointments and sobered my finest memories. Still, I can see now that it is time, if possible, to hand these privileges and responsibilities to the next person or group to take the Club forward. 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.
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 BMH, 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.
Finally, in light of the above, I have engaged Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the sale of Aston Villa."
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