Report: Kazakh billionaire "front runner" to buy Aston Villa

Tevfik Arif - WireImage (Mark Von Holden)

The Independent is reporting that there are numerous potential buyers lined up, but that a Kazakh billionaire is currently the front runner.

Kazakh-born property mogul and Donald Trump associate Tevfik Arif is reportedly the "front-runner" to buy Aston Villa from Randy Lerner according to a report in the Independent. Arif now lives in New York, where he is the founder of the property firm the Bayrock Group, which routinely does business with Trump.

In 2010, Arif was arrested on charges of running a prostitution ring about the yacht Savarona, originally used by Mustafa Ataturk. He was later cleared of those charges in 2011. But if the similarities to a Bond villain sound pretty strong to you, just wait. He was also a member of the Soviet Ministry of Commerce and Trade, working in hotel management.

And to top it all off, he is an investor in Doyen Capital, which is your typical hedge fund. Except that it's a hedge fund that bets (essentially) on the futures of footballers, giving loans to cash-strapped clubs so that they can bring in players, in return for money on future transfer fees.

Nevertheless, if he's willing to pony up the required amount of money to buy Aston Villa -- and then to invest what is needed to revitalize the club -- I think most fans would be willing to look beyond the shady past. What do you think? Does the prospect of Arif as owner excite you?

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