For sale: Aston Villa and £3m farmhouse
Randy Lerner is expected to fly into England this week to discuss a proposed £150m takeover of Aston Villa. Lerner, the club's owner, is on the verge of ending his nine-year reign this summer and is scheduled for talks with the Villa hierarchy over the impending sale.
Villa have been in negotiations with a consortium since the start of the year and new owners appear inevitable after it emerged that Lerner's £3 million farmhouse is part of the deal.
Lerner's property in Hurley, a village near Villa's Bodymoor Heath training ground in north Warwickshire, is being offered to the interested party and it is understood that a local estate agents has been recently recruited to revalue it. The converted farmhouse, which is based on around 16 acres of land, is part of the overall package that Lerner and Bank of America Merrill Lynch have proposed to any party interested in buying the West Midlands club.
It is understood that the consortium are in due diligence and have been given access to the club's 'data room', with the intention of taking charge in the summer.
The international group, led by one major investor and a small number of backers from around the world, have signed a non-disclosure agreement and are determined to keep their identities secret.
Links with the American investment bankers Todd Boehly and Henry Silverman have been dismissed, but talks are said to be progressing smoothly and the takeover is expected to accelerate once Villa's Premier League future is known.
Villa remain in danger of relegation to the Championship under their manager, Tim Sherwood, and are only three points clear of the bottom three.
Sherwood faces a tough trip to Manchester United on Saturday before a potentially pivotal home match against Queens Park Rangers the following Tuesday.
Relegation would severely harm Lerner's asking price - it is believed that the £150m fee could even be halved - but the consortium would still be interested in buying the club.
However, Sherwood has masterminded an upturn in results and mood since his appointment and he is also preparing for a FA Cup semi-final at Wembley next month, against the winners of the replay between Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers.
It is thought that Lerner will be at the national stadium in what could be one of his final games as the Villa chairman.
The potential new owners have not yet made their intentions clear on the futures of Sherwood, or the chief executive Tom Fox, who joined from Arsenal at the start of the season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)