In an interview with Phil Williams on BBC Radio 5 Live, Former Villa chairman Doug Ellis discussed the potential sale of the club and his relationship with Randy Lerner. As far as sources for takeover gossip go, this is the Holy Grail. Of course Ellis won't be involved in discussions over the deal itself, but you won't find anyone better connected and immersed in the club.
When asked for his verdict on the likely sale of the club, Ellis replied: "Information I was receiving was that it was a done deal, that the buyer was American and it was for £200 million". However, when pressed further his next answer was more ambiguous: "I wish I knew because I frankly don't know. All I know is that the rumours are it's a done deal, but who it is and how much I frankly don't know." He later went on to claim: "I just don't know whether it's a done deal or not. I just hope it's someone who will think of the club a little bit more.
On his relationship with Lerner, Ellis seemed very positive: "I still say he was a good man and he was the right man for Aston Villa at the time". He spoke of a conversation he had with Lerner early on, where he claims Lerner told him: "When I was at University, my 2 clubs were Arsenal and Villa. You were always known as a mean [expletive]!" Ellis also hinted at an interesting theory that "certain promises were made to Randy which were broken", but refused to go into further detail.
When questioned on the current standard of football, Ellis claimed that Lerner's reign had been "disappointing" and that right now Villa are probably in a worse state than when Ellis handed over control.
With regards to when a deal could be completed, Ellis made it clear that time is of the essence, but that there is no reason why Lerner should struggle to sell: "The club is in a good condition for any perspective purchaser and I only hope it happens soon and we know who it is". Ellis also gave his opinion that whoever the new owner is would need to put in "at least £100 million" for new players.
If you live in the UK, the interview should soon be available to listen again on BBC iPlayer.
Despite claims from the press that Lerner does not have a buyer lined up, it's pretty clear that things are happening behind the scenes. Exactly how long we will have to wait before a deal is concluded is up for debate, but the signs are promising that Villa will have a new owner by the start of the new season. Let's hope that whoever comes in has enough time to sign the players required to help us have a significantly better season in 2014/15.