Texas Rangers deny Villa takeover, but what about Astros?

Bob Levey

The Texas Rangers have denied an attempt to purchase Aston Villa, but that still leaves another Texas baseball owner.

Over the weekend, we heard that the potential Aston Villa takeover may be coming from the owner of a Major League Baseball franchise. Coupled with the rumour that whoever was behind the takeover was from Texas, this fact pointed at two potential options. I speculated that if the two reports were true, Villa fans could be soon talking about owner Ray Davis of the Texas Rangers or Jim Crane of the Houston Astros. Well, we can probably rule out Davis, as the Texas Rangers have denied that he and co-owner Bob Simpson are in any talks at all with Aston Villa.

This could of course be a lie from the PR department of the Rangers, but if we take it at face value, it points even more strongly towards Jim Crane. As I discussed on Saturday evening, I think that Crane -- valued at £1.19 billion -- could be a fantastic choice as owner of the club. A lot of readers objected to that idea given how bad the Astros have been, but I remain convinced that he would intelligently steer Villa towards a strong as sustainable future.

It's impossible to draw exact parallels between how Crane runs a baseball team and how he would run a football club. Sustained failure in the service of future improvement is a tenable financial decision in baseball, given the guaranteed streams of revenue each team has. In football, it's obviously quite different. Sustained failure would lead to relegation which would lead to less money and more failure. There is no reason to think that Crane would run Villa in the same way he runs the Astros save for one aspect: he would likely do so intelligently.

One of the real hallmarks of Crane's tenure as owner of the Astros is that he has surrounded himself with some of the smartest minds in baseball. It seems logical that he would do the same at Aston Villa, and isn't that precisely what most fans are clamoring for? A front office that actually understands the game?

Of course, any speculation at this point is just that. To get to the point where you believe that either Jim Crane or Ray Davis and Bob Simpson would be buying Aston Villa, you must accept numerous assumptions to be true first. If any of those prove to have been wrong, we're back at square one. But keep your eyes on Jim Crane. He seems like a smart fit for this club, and one who could do a lot of good.

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