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Last Updated: Monday, 14 August 2006, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
O'Neill poised to extend contract
By Simon Austin

Martin O'Neill
O'Neill and Lerner 'share a love of football and American Football'
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is expected to sign a long-term deal if billionaire Randy Lerner takes control of the club, BBC Sport understands.

The contract would be the longest held by any current Premiership manager.

O'Neill took over at Villa on 4 August after agreeing a 12-month rolling contract with chairman Doug Ellis.

But he had already held "detailed discussions" with Lerner and agreed the terms of a contract, a source close to the American told BBC Sport.

O'Neill also gained assurances from Ellis that he would relinquish control of the club.

The source has told BBC Sport that O'Neill and Lerner struck up a good rapport when they met and that they "share a mutual love of football and American Football".

Lerner, who is the chairman of credit card company MBNA, has vowed to provide the resources to turn Villa into one of the top four teams in the Premiership.

The 44-year-old has made an offer of 62.6m for the Midlands club, which has been accepted by its board.

An emergency general meeting of Villa's shareholders has now been called to discuss the bid.

Lerner and his financial adviser Keith Harris, who brokered Roman Abramovich's purchase of Chelsea, had been "thinking through" a deal for Villa for the last two years, according to the source.

The American is said to see a lot of similarities between the cities of Cleveland and Birmingham.

Lerner took sole control of the Cleveland Browns gridiron team when his father died in 2002 and claims to have turned them into the best-supported team in the NFL.

Villa finished 16th in the Premiership last season and manager David O'Leary parted company with the club in July.



SEE ALSO
Lerner agrees takeover of Villa
14 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa
Consortia ponder joint Villa bid
02 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa
Pair provide O'Neill with boost
07 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa
O'Neill gets first look at Villa
05 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa
O'Neill named Aston Villa manager
04 Aug 06 |  Aston Villa


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