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Reports that a mystery bidder has met the £150 million asking price for Aston Villa indicate that the club could have a new owner within the next few months.
According to the Telegraph, an unknown bidder has been granted exclusivity by Villans chairman Randy Lerner, which means that club ownership could change hands as soon as six weeks from now.
The Telegraph reports that the identity of the mystery bidder is a well-guarded secret, but noted that former Chelsea executive Paul Smith along with parties in the United States and China are possible.
Randy Lerner has served as chairman of Aston Villa for nine years after purchasing the majority of the club’s shares in 2006. But the club struggled mightily on and off the field, and for four straight seasons the club has finished 15th or worse on the Premier League table. Aston Villa only narrowly escaped relegation thanks to a well-timed managerial change from Paul Lambert to Tim Sherwood and a resurgence by leading scorer Christian Benteke. Sherwood is likely to stay with the club regardless of the new ownership and the club is trying its hardest to retain Benteke.
Lerner put the club up for sale in May 2014, citing the need for new leadership. The American billionaire also owned the NFL’s Cleveland Browns franchise from 2002 until he sold it in 2012.