Tuesday 6 December 2016

Steve Hollis promises he won't be Randy Lerner's lapdog as Aston Villa chairman

Published 18/03/2016 | 22:46

Steve Hollis, pictured right, replaced Randy Lerner as chairman at Aston Villa in January.
Steve Hollis, pictured right, replaced Randy Lerner as chairman at Aston Villa in January.

Aston Villa chairman Steve Hollis insists he will not be owner Randy Lerner's lapdog as he plots the club's resurrection.

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The new chairman has spearheaded a review into the club with Villa on the brink of relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

He wants to change the club's model, meaning Tom Fox quit as chief executive on Thursday 48 hours after sporting director Hendrik Almstadt left.

American-based Lerner has remained a board member despite being replaced by Hollis as chairman and Hollis said he is prepared to disagree with the owner.

" It's a real brave decision on his part to hand over the running of the club to a board where he's a board member, but he's one of five (board members)," said the former chairman of accountants KPGM.

"I was very clear when I took the chair, 'If you want some poodle who's just going to be your mouthpiece you've got the wrong bloke, because I'm not doing that'.

"You're a board member, Randy, and I'll respect you as a shareholder but that's the relationship we have. It's brave. It's part of his family assets and he's handed over the stewardship of that asset to a new board team."

The chairman is also confident the club, who go to Swansea on Saturday, are protected from financial difficulties even if they drop out of the Premier League for the first time in their history.

He said: "Whatever division we're in, we have a strong balance sheet. We have a business model which works through for the next two or three years. That's what you would expect of the board."

Hollis admitted he could not guarantee manager Remi Garde's future at the club with the French boss waiting until the end of the season to decide.

Hollis called Garde one of the best coaches in Europe despite the manager having won just three league games since replacing Tim Sherwood in November.

But Garde himself admitted he has needed to keep quiet over what he has seen this season for fear of hurting the club because he is too honest.

He said: "Yes, but it's not a question to be honest, it's a question of respecting the position you are in. I am not here to protect myself, I am here to do the best for this football club. I am here for that, as simple as that."

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