I would like to say from the outset of this article the analysis of Randy Lerner is not my own personal view. This is just a collation of views with different aspects and would like to get fellow fans to share their ideas on the comments box at the bottom of the article. On September 19, 2006 Aston Villa PLC executive Chairman Doug Ellis and his board resigned, to be replaced by Randy Lerner as Chairman and General Charles C. Krulak, Bob Kain and Michael Martin as non-executive directors for £62.6million.
At the close of the deal in 2006, Lerner became the second American owner of a Premiership club. Randy Lerner had a few selective words to instantaneously warm to Villa fans hearts “The club has been an enormous and immensely enjoyable part of my life. “I wish to thank the many staff at Aston Villa over the years for making the club what it has been and what it is. “I am sure this transaction will be the beginning of a new chapter in Aston Villa’s proud history.”
The arrival of a new owner and manager Martin O’Neill marked the start of a new period of optimism at Villa Park and sweeping changes occurred throughout the club including a new crest, a new kit sponsor and team changes in the summer of 2007 with the introduction of the following players: Stiliyan Petrov (from Celtic for £6.5m), Didier Agathe (from Celtic for Free), Chris Sutton (from Celtic for Free), Phil Bardsley (from Manchester United on Loan), Gabor Kiraly (from Crystal Palace on Loan), John Carew (from Lyon Swap deal), Ashley Young (from Watford for £9.65m) and Shaun Maloney (from Celtic for £1.1m).
The deals illustrated the intent and belief Randy had in Martin O’Neill who delivered the Premier eague’s longest undefeated start of the Premier League season going 9 games until the end of October. Aston Villa just missed out on a UEFA Cup spot on the final day of the 2007–08 season and qualified for the Intertoto Cup by finishing 6th. At the start of the 2009–10 season Villa failed to qualify for the group stage of the newly named Europa League, but continued their progress in the league with impressive wins against teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Villa were on the way to reaching an achievement that had long since not been reached, which was to beat all “top 4” clubs, consisting of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. Arsenal defeated Villa 3–0 at Emirates Stadium, and drew home, destroying any hopes Villa had of reaching this achievement. Once again Villa finished 6th for the 3rd season running, and once again improved their points tally finishing with 64 points; their poor home form (they drew 8 times at home) denied them a chance to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
Aston Villa reached their first final under Martin O’Neill and first final in 10 years on 28 February 2010 against Manchester United in the Carling Cup, but lost 2–1. Along the way Aston Villa had become a recognized force to be reckoned with attracting bright English talent such as Ashley Young, James Milner, Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing, Gary Cahill, Craig Gardner amongst the biggest names in the modern-day game due the success of Martin O’Neill’s reputation and belief that Villa was a great place to be once again.
Ellis and Aston Villa PLC announced a state of the art £13 million redevelopment of Bodymoor in 2 phases. However, work on Bodymoor was suspended by Ellis due to financial problems, and was left in an unfinished state until new owner Randy Lerner made it one of his priorities to make the site one of the best in world football. The new training ground was officially unveiled on 6 May 2007, by then manager Martin O’Neill, then team captain Gareth Barry and 1982 European Cup winning team captain Dennis Mortimer, with the Aston Villa squad moving in for the 2007–08 season.
During the “Randy and O Neill” era the club managed to secure partnerships in the community. Something which Randy Lerner believed would be great for the profile of the club along the way Villa. Aston Villa has a unique relationship with the Acorns Children’s Hospice charity that is groundbreaking in English football.
In a first for the Premier League, Aston Villa donated the front of the shirt on their kit, usually reserved for high paying sponsorships, to Acorns Hospice so that the charity would gain significantly more visibility and greater fund-raising capabilities. Outside of the shirt sponsorship the club have paid for almost 300 national days of hospice care for the charity as well as regularly providing player visits to hospice locations.
In September 2010, Aston Villa launched an initiative at Villa Park called Villa Midlands Food (VMF) where the club will spend two years training students with Aston Villa Hospitality and Events, in association with Birmingham City Council.
The club will open a restaurant in the Trinity Road Stand staffed with 12 students recruited from within a ten-mile (16 km) radius of Villa Park with the majority of the food served in the restaurant sourced locally. Villa has lost several prominent players in recent seasons: James Milner was sold to Manchester City, Stewart Downing left for Liverpool and Ashley Young sold to Manchester United, for a joint income of £63million. “Instead of being able to build on what they had, players ended up leaving Villa, so I hope Tottenham will make the right steps”
After Martin O’Neill walked out on Villa, Kevin MacDonald took charge to steady the ship whilst Randy Lerner found his best candidate for the job and this decision was to appoint Gerard Houllier. This was greeted with a division of opinions between fans. Gerard Houllier took charge in September 2010 and brought in Gary McAllister as his assistant manager and brought Gordon Cowans to assist them both. Injuries to key players Gabby Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey, Nigel Reo-Coker and Stiliyan Petrov were hindering progression, so Houllier brought in a fellow countryman Robert Pires.
Villa slumped to 18th position in the Premier League but in January Villa broke their previous transfer record and stumped up £18million (rising to £24million) for Darren Bent along with loan signings of Jean Makoun, Kyle Walker and Michael Bradley. Fans opinions of Gerard Houllier’s nose dived after the team which Houllier fielded ahead of a FA Cup Quarter-Final at Manchester City had 5 first-teamers were rested.
After the exit it was decided to have a team build at a Leicestershire health spa which went pear-shaped when James Collins and Richard Dunne got into hot bother about a disagreement with Villa staff members. This resulted both players fined 2 weeks wages and subject to an internal investigation.
On 20 April, Houllier was admitted to hospital after falling ill in the night. His condition was said to be stable, but he was not able to be at Aston Villa’s training session the following day, and was not able to attend their match against Stoke City on 23 April, or any later matches of the 2010-2011 season. Gary McAllister took charge of all first team affairs in his stead.
On 1 June, Gerard Houllier stepped down as manager of Aston Villa by mutual consent. The search for another manager started yet again with names such as Mark Hughes, Carlo Ancelotti and David Moyes were fans favorites. Villa held interviews with Rafa Benitez, and Roberto Martinez was allowed to speak to Villa after Wigan granted contact between two parties but Martinez later turned down. There was a rumor that Steve McLaren was going to be interviewed but this was cancelled by Randy Lerner. It was thought that this was due to message board polls against McLaren spoke volumes.
On 17th June 2011 Alex McLeish was appointed as the new Aston Villa manager much to the disapproval of many fans who held protests and threats of boycotting the games whilst McLeish was in charge. Alex McLeish was busy in the transfer window managing to sign Shay Given (£3.5million), Charles Nzogbia (£9.5million), Alan Hutton (£3.5m- £4million) and loan signing of Jermaine Jenas was a deadline day special. Times have changed since Randy Lerner takeover of Aston Villa in the direction of the economic climate and the influx of Man City buying power along with major takeover at other bigger stature clubs.
Randy Lerner over the last 5years has tried to make Villa a formidable force in the top and was so-close to achieving this during the 2007-2008 season. Randy Lerner has spent in the region of £250million on players, completed the redevelopment of Bodymoor Heath training ground that was in the region of £13million.
Lerner re-renovated the Holte Pub which had stood in a poor state and was closed for a considerable amount of time. Lerner has raised the profile of the club and re-buffered the proud the history the club has, fans are quick to forget the previous spending. But times are hard and Randy Lerner has been looking at ways to reduce the wage bill which Martin O’Neill overspent on merely average players at heights.
Villa had posted an estimated £80million wage bill which was reported £37million loss for the year ending 31st May 2010. Randy Lerner and his team have slowly been reigning in the spending powers and getting rid of deadwood this summer Aston Villa released or sold players this release has freed up on average £400,000 per week which works around £20.8million with Ashley Young on £65k a week and Downing on £60k a week as a large chunk of wage bill contribution.
Villa have still a long way to go to reduce this even more in recent publications Randy is wanting to shave another average of 10k a week of the wage bill to bring in line with European Rule compliance that comes into play during the 2013-2014 season. Randy Lerner has had personal external financial battles with his ex-wife; his wife was after a divorce settlement payment,contact a professional to understand the clauses in a separation agreement and the settlement payment. Only recently Randy has won a £25million court battle legal case against his former investment company.
So will Randy re-invest his money he managed to claim back or will he walk away and admit he cannot play in Billionaires Playground.
Aston Villa lost £54m in the year from 1 June 2010 to 31 May 2011, the club has announced. That is a record loss since the American credit card magnate Randy Lerner bought Villa in 2006, and the club’s losses have deepened every year since. In the previous year, 2009-10, Lerner’s UK-based holding company which owns Villa, Reform Acquisitions, lost £38m, so losses worsened 42% in 2010-11. Aston Villa bosses insist they are satisfied with the club’s financial position despite announcing annual losses of almost £54m.
It does not include money raised from the sales of England wingers Ashley Young and Stewart Downing last June. Robin Russell Aston Villa chief financial officer Villa revealed total income had increased by 1.3% to a record £92m. Chief financial officer Robin Russell said: “Given the challenging economic environment we’re pleased with positive trends in our financial performance.”
Villa confirmed the overall loss for the year up to 31 May 2011 represents an increase from £37.6m. The figure includes the record £24m transfer fee spent to bring England striker Darren Bent to Villa Park in January last year. The financial statement also showed Villa’s commercial income had increased by 15.9% year on year. The Birmingham club spent £12m on changes in the football management staff, while American owner Randy Lerner invested £25m. There was an £8.3m reduction in bank borrowings.
Russell added: “The board of Aston Villa are confident that the actions taken since the end of the 2010-11 financial year have galvanised the long-term sustainability of the club and have also given us a better financial platform on which to build for future success. “Our objectives are to compete strongly on the pitch and to achieve sustainability as well as compliance with Uefa’s Financial Fair Play requirements.” Meanwhile, former Villa loanee Robbie Keane has said the club’s players are firmly behind manager Alex McLeish.
VILLA’S 2010-11 FINANCES Total losses: £53.9m Income: £92m Revenue growth: +1.3% Commercial income: +15.9% Bank borrowings: -8.3% Randy Lerner investment: £25m
LA Galaxy striker Keane has returned to the United States after his seven-match spell ended with Saturday’s 0-0 Premier League draw at Wigan. The 31-year-old said he enjoyed working with the Scot, who has received a frosty reception from Villa fans since his summer switch from rivals Birmingham City. “I know at the moment it’s not going as well as probably he [McLeish] would like, and the club certainly,” added Keane. “But all you want in a manager when you work with someone is someone who is honest with you, and they don’t come any more honest than him. “He is desperate for the team to do well. At this time he has been getting a little bit of flack from the fans, but that doesn’t reflect on how good a manager is. “The only thing I could say is the players are 100% behind him. They really enjoy working with him. “It’s a transition period for Aston Villa and I am sure next season it will be completely different.”