Aston Villa: What does the sale of the Cleveland Browns mean for Villa?
Over the weekend reports surfaced that Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner is due to sell his controlling share in the Cleveland Browns NFL franchise. The sale of the Browns is yet to be completed, however president Mike Holmgren confirmed to ESPN that Lerner was in negotiations with billionaire truck stop mogul and Pittsburg Steelers fan Jimmy Haslem.
It is expected that if the sale goes through, the figured demanded will be roughly 920 million US dollars, so the question remains what implications could this have on Lerner’s ownership of Aston Villa?
There are two obvious possibilities for change that could emerge from the sale of the Browns; Lerner could take a stronger interest in the operations of the club, something that he has been criticised for in the past. Or like the Browns, Lerner could choose to sell off his shares.
There are some details about the Cleveland sale that suggest the sale of Aston Villa is a possibility. In his press conference, Cleveland president Mike Holmgren said the sale of the Browns was down to Lerner’s changing interests.
“I think as his kids have gotten older and his life has changed a little bit and he was very concerned with and interested in the right person stepping forward if he was going to sell the football team," he said. “Apparently, all the stars aligned in the last few months.”
Even though Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner has been quick to dismiss rumours of a sale it is hard to believe the same changing interests couldn’t affect Aston Villa, and if those same starts aligned, Lerner wouldn’t look to sell. For all we know it could be happening right now. Simply by nature of the way Lerner likes to deal, it is unlikely that we will hear any word of a sale until the deal is practically complete.
While there are similarities between Lerner’s ownership of the two clubs, there are some obvious differences that could point towards a more active interest from the chairman. A point raised by Paul Faulkner in an interview with the Daily Mail.
"The big point that people sometimes forget is that he inherited Cleveland - he bought Villa,” he said.
If Lerner has a greater interest in Aston Villa, as Faulkner suggests, then there is a possibility some of the 920 million made through the sale of Cleveland could go towards investment in the club.
While the club was hemorrhaging money over the past few years due to the massive wage bill, many of the big earners, such as Sidwell, Carew, L Young, Heskey, Reo Coker, A Young, Friedel and Downing, have left the club. Also with the imminent departures of Collins, Warnock and Dunne in the coming seasons the club is primed for re-investment under a cautious approach, rather than the scattergun method implemented under Martin O’Neill.
Lerner may decide to again attempt to build Aston Villa up to be the powerhouse that he once hoped it could be. Otherwise if he prefers to sell, we know it will be to a reliable investor with the best interests of the club at hand, such as he did with Cleveland. Regardless of which, the future is starting to look brighter at the club.
Article by Christian Dougherty
Calling all Villa fans: Do you agree with Christian? Are you confident about the future, whether Lerner is in control or not? What do you see happening with Lerner at Villa? Can Villa challenge for honours again this season? Whatever your views we'd love to hear from you.
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