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Last Updated: Monday, 14 August 2006, 06:08 GMT 07:08 UK
Lerner agrees takeover of Villa
Doug Ellis (left) has sold his majority shareholding in the club to American tycoon Randy Lerner
Lerner has ended Ellis' reign as chairman of Villa with his bid
Aston Villa's board have accepted a 62.6m takeover of the club from American billionaire Randy Lerner.

A club statement on the Stock Exchange said a stake of 56.85% of majority shareholders had been secured by Lerner at 547 pence per share.

Four consortia had been linked with the club but the Villa board have recommended 44-year-old Lerner's offer to shareholders.

Doug Ellis, 82, chairman from 1968-75 and since 1982, is to stand down.

He has been the target of constant supporter unrest in recent seasons, with fans upset at his lack of financial backing.

The club has a rich history and a long tradition of passionate fan support

Randy Lerner

However, he stated: "It has been my sincere pleasure to have been involved with Aston Villa these many years, both as chairman and as a substantial shareholder.

"The club has been an enormous and immensely enjoyable part of my life.

"I wish to thank the many staff at Aston Villa over the years for making the club what it has been and what it is.

"I am sure this transaction will be the beginning of a new chapter in Aston Villa's proud history."

The statement from Villa revealed the club had been involved in negotiations with a number of parties

Villa recently appointed Martin O'Neill as manager and each of the groups in the race to buy the club were reported to be happy with his appointment in the midst of the takeover battle.

Michael Neville, a local businessman and Villa fan, headed one group that was keen to assume control of the club, while another was put together by Nicholas Padfield QC.

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AP

Athole Still, the agent of former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, was also believed to be interested in a takeover.

Lerner, who owns American football team Cleveland Browns, conducted the offer through his company Reform Acquisitions Ltd (RAL), which was specifically set up to launch his bid.

The deal could still be hijacked but at present Lerner's offer has been deemed most appropriate.

"The discussions with interested parties have resulted in the Offer by RAL," said Villa's statement.

"The board of Aston Villa believes that RAL's offer not only fairly values Aston Villa but that RAL will also provide the potential for the club's future on-field success."

Lerner said: "It is my belief and the basis for my bid that Aston Villa can compete at the highest level within the Premiership and in Europe.

"The club has a rich history and a long tradition of passionate fan support."

O'Neill is now likely to have more transfer funds available to spend before the transfer window closes on 31 August.

In the statement, RAL added: "We will be looking to allocate financial resources across multiple fronts such as an upgraded training ground and facilities, which are intended to include the academy, stadium upgrades and player acquisitions."

Ellis is believed to have wanted some sort of honorary role in what is believed to have stalled negotiations with the Lerner consortium.

BBC Five Live Sport's Pat Murphy said: "Ellis' future has been the sticking point since he and Lerner fell out at the negotiating table three weeks ago.

"Lerner has prevailed and could be in control of Villa, turning it into a private company, within the next three weeks."



SEE ALSO
Consortia ponder joint Villa bid
02 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa
Lerner ready to renew Villa bid
01 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa
Lerner 'out of race to buy Villa'
26 Jul 06 |  Aston Villa
Neville group makes bid for Villa
26 Jul 06 |  Aston Villa
Eriksson's agent 'in Villa talks'
27 Jul 06 |  Aston Villa
Ellis ponders Villa takeover bids
26 Jul 06 |  Aston Villa
Villa takeover almost ready to go
24 Dec 05 |  Aston Villa


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