Thursday 29 September 2016

Villa risk fans fury as head of recruitment Paddy Riley stays on despite disastrous transfers

John Percy

Published 24/04/2016 | 09:53

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is sticking by Paddy Riley CREDIT: PA
Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is sticking by Paddy Riley CREDIT: PA

Aston Villa’s much maligned head of recruitment, Paddy Riley, has been given a stay of execution in a move which will infuriate supporters.

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Riley’s job is safe – for now – despite a ruthless cull which has seen Remi Garde, Tom Fox and Hendrik Almstadt leave the crisis club as part of an extensive review into Villa’s nightmare campaign.

Telegraph Sport understands that around 500 jobs will be going from the club’s training ground and Villa Park but Riley and his scouting team are not under threat, which is thought to have angered club staff.

It can also be revealed that Riley has even been involved in discussions over the new manager, with Nigel Pearson and David Moyes still understood to be the leading contenders, and his future is unlikely to be decided until an appointment is made.

Riley has emerged as a target for frustrated fans as he was heavily involved in Villa’s £55 million spending spree last summer, which has proven such a contentious issue. Many of those 12 signings have flopped spectacularly, while Riley’s scouting network was pinpointed as a major problem by former director David Bernstein, who sensationally quit on Monday.

Yet Riley is known to be close with owner Randy Lerner, leading to suggestions that his position is secure until a new manager comes in. He has been watching Championship games this month as Villa prepare for next season in the second tier, following their first relegation since 1987.

Villa are stepping up their attempts to sell the club this summer, with chairman Steve Hollis thought to be considering three bids. Lerner will accept around £75 million for the relegated club – half the initial asking price – and Hollis is using London-based law firm Squire Patton Boggs to assist in the sale.

Villa also expect to conclude their investigation into striker Gabriel Agbonlahor this week, after he was pictured with laughing gas canisters on the night the club’s relegation was officially confirmed. Agbonlahor was suspended for the second time and is likely to be fined, ahead of his departure this summer. The 29-year-old is understood to have an offer on the table from a club in the Middle East.

Telegraph.co.uk

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