An article in today's Times reveals that Randy Lerner had a prospective buyer in place for Aston Villa, but that any deal on the table fell through in the final stages of negotiations. The article says that a buyer was around as recently as three months ago (before we began this latest round of rumours):
"One suitable party was identified and productive talks held over several weeks during the course of this season, only for the deal to collapse as it neared completion."
Looking at the calendar, three months ago puts a deal as near finishing right after the thrilling 4-3 victory over West Bromwich Albion. Villa were only five points clear of the drop at that point, but at 10th place on the table, plenty of space remained between them and the bottom. They looked to possibly be on the upswing.
Then came losses to Everton, Newcastle, West Ham United and a draw to Cardiff City. A February to forget. And while there is no proof that a deal fell through because of the club's poor form, it's hard to ignore that terrible stretch.
Regardless of the reasons, there was no deal. Whatever happened in the past is done and the club are here today: still for sale. It's just a little depressing to hear that a deal was all but done.