Tuesday 24 October 2017

David Bernstein acknowledges relegation will not enhance Aston Villa's appeal

David Bernstein joined the Aston Villa board this month and will also head up their new football board
David Bernstein joined the Aston Villa board this month and will also head up their new football board

New director David Bernstein has warned Aston Villa will now be even harder to sell as they stand on the brink of relegation.

Owner Randy Lerner has failed to find a buyer for the club after putting it on the market more than two years ago.

Former chairman of the Football Association Bernstein was appointed to Villa's board earlier this month during a shake-up.

Chief executive Tom Fox and sporting director Hendrik Almstadt both left last week during chairman Steve Hollis' review of the club.

Former governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King is also a new director while Bernstein will head up a four-man football board to oversee the playing side of the club.

Villa, bottom of the table and 12 points from safety, are set to be relegated from the Barclays Premier League and Bernstein knows it will be a struggle to find new owners.

He said: "I'm just stating the obvious, that when a club is in decline and relegation starts to be threatened it seems fairly obvious that the attraction of the Premier League - which is frankly what most owners are looking for - becomes less certain. Then there are bound to be issues about selling it.

"That seems fairly obvious but I haven't been involved at all in the process and I don't know who he has spoken to or not. The club must be more difficult to sell now for any decent sum than it was a year ago.

"I believe he (Lerner) is obviously devastated the club is where it is but he should be given great credit for a lot of terrific work he's done over the years."

Speculation also continues to surround boss Remi Garde's future after Villa's sixth straight loss following their 1-0 defeat at Swansea on Saturday.

Bernstein has held extensive talks with Garde and conceded he is in a difficult position but was impressed with his professionalism.

He said: "I had two and a half hours with him at my home last Wednesday. He came down and I had a very good meeting with him.

"He is a very civilised, dedicated, professional and passionate person.

"I have only met him once and I've got a lot of respect for him already but he's got a very tough job on."

Bernstein believes Villa would have a strong chance of bouncing straight back from the Championship.

But he has told the former European Cup winners they cannot rely on their history and insisted Manchester City's relegation to the third tier in 1998 serves as a reminder to clubs not to take things for granted.

"It has happened to other clubs and it has happened to Aston Villa before," he said.

"They went down to an even lower level so we all know it can happen.

"You can't rest on your name and your history, that's for sure.

"Look at the Premier League at the moment and look at the sides near the bottom then look at Bournemouth, Swansea, Leicester and all those clubs who are doing amazingly.

"History is not necessarily a guide to the future, so we've just got to get it right.

"But what we have got here is the scale of the club and the support.

"We've got all the component parts but we've got to put it together, make a lot of correct decisions, and get it right."

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