Randy Lerner may be ready to make a major Aston Villa move: but he probably isn't

Jamie McDonald

With the atmosphere at Aston Villa being what it is, rumours are bound to circulate. Let's address the biggest of those.

Aston Villa are currently embroiled in their most tumultuous stretch in recent memory. Long gone are the happy memories of beating Chelsea 1-0 at Villa Park. They've been replaced by four consecutive losses, increasing discontent with Paul Lambert and Randy Lerner, Christian Benteke's season-ending injury, and today's news of the sacking/suspension of two of Lambert's assistants. In such an atmosphere, it seems inevitable that rumours will fly fast and free, and they certainly have been.

Depending on where you look on the internet, today's suspensions of Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa have come thanks to a training ground row, leaking of lineups before matches, or practically anything else. At this point, no one has any idea, and theories are being spouted everywhere. In all likelihood, one of these -- or several of them -- are probably correct. Right now, however, it's impossible to tell what's right and what's wrong.

Then there are the seemingly irrepressible rumours that Randy Lerner is on the verge of selling the club. These have popped up with some regularity in the past few years. On one forum right now, there is a thread with nearly 500 responses title "Takeover: Imminent" in which the editors of the site assure us that they have inside information that Randy Lerner is not long for this club. That thread began last Wednesday and continues to thrive today.

If there is any truth to what you can read in the thread, it would be absolutely huge for the club. Financial Fair Play regulations probably rule out the oil-magnate-type savior that has launched Manchester City into permanently being one of the top clubs in the league. Nevertheless, a switch in ownership would absolutely mean a change in direction for this club. It could be for better (see: Manchester City, sans the money) or for worse (hello Cardiff!), but it absolutely would be hugely important.

And for once, I'm not here to disparage those rumours or those editors. They may indeed have some sort of inside information (though the fact that the club has not been taken over a week later proves that perhaps "imminent" was incorrect) or they may not. I don't think people are purposefully spreading lies, though.

I just want to quickly remind everyone to be skeptical of pretty much everything you read about this club right now. It's the same attitude we keep during the transfer window, really. The club is in such a situation right now that a lot is believable. Combine that with the absolutely atrocious PR that Aston Villa have -- being as tight-lipped as they are right now is certainly not in their best interests -- and rumours will flourish.

I've never given any credence to the "Lerner is going to sell" rumours before, and my head says they're as wrong now as they have been for a few years. But it's hard to ignore the gut instinct that something may be happening. I initially sat down to write a story addressing those rumours only, but I realized that doing so would be doing a disservice to our readers. The key, as savvy fans, is to remember that you should take almost everything you read with a giant grain of salt. It's not an exaggeration to say that 95% of the rumours around this club prove to be untrue, so keep that in mind.

It may not be fun, but it's certainly an exciting time to be a Villa fan. Let's all just keep our wits about us.

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