Aston Villa: £60m deal for club could be done by end of week

By Pat MurphyBBC Radio 5 live
Villa fans have protested at Lerner's ownership of the club
Villa fans have protested at Lerner's ownership of the club

Relegated Aston Villa could be sold to a Chinese businessman by the end of this week for as little as £60m.

American Randy Lerner, who bought the club a decade ago for a similar sum, is closer to a deal than at any time since putting it up for sale in 2014.

The unnamed buyer's team is now looking over Villa's financial records.

A new manager for the Midlands club - likely to be either Nigel Pearson or Roberto di Matteo - will not be announced until the deal is done.

There have been several approaches made to Lerner since he put Villa up for sale but none have progressed as far as this.

Villa are preparing for life in the Championship following their relegation from the Premier League.

They finished bottom of the table with 17 points after sacking Remi Garde at the end of March.

Former Leicester City manager Pearson and ex-Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion boss Di Matteo are the two favoured candidates to replace the Frenchman.

Both men have management experience of the Championship, a division Villa find themselves in for the first time since 1987-88.

The double announcement of new owner and manager could coincide, but there are still numerous hurdles to be cleared.

A purchase agreement must be signed, proof of funds is necessary and the Football League needs to approve of the potential investor.

Lerner has accepted blame for Villa's relegation
Lerner has accepted blame for Villa's relegation

Although Lerner wants out of Villa, he is still concerned that his successor has the club's best interests at heart.

Any new owner will need to pump in more than just the estimated purchase price of around £60m.

Additional money will be needed for the appointment of a new manager and his support staff, as well as a new chief executive, a finance director and a commercial director.

The club may also need to pay up the contracts of unwanted players and find funds to bring in ones more suited to the rigours of Championship football.

Giving established players long contracts in the past year, as well as signing 12 new ones last summer to the tune of £55m, means Villa's first-team squad is thought to have 74 years left on contracts.

The man earmarked as the new chief executive is Keith Wyness, who did the job at Everton for five years until 2009.

Wyness was well-regarded in his time at Everton and has built up extensive contacts in football, including in China.

He has also acted as a consultant in buying and selling clubs, while also advising clubs on developments of stadiums and training grounds.

Wyness has been seen at Villa Park on match days recently and has started to follow Villa-related social media accounts.

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