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Lerner contract ban could mean a domino effect of bad news

Randy Lerner has apparently given Paul Lambert money for the summer, but he's not allowed to extend player contracts. What?

Tony Marshall

Aston Villa are confusing.

First we heard that there would be no new contracts or signings this summer. Then we heard that funds would be available. That seemed quite good! But yesterday gave us word that Marc Albrighton was likely not going to have his contract renewed, which was quite perplexing in light of the club's unquestionable need for creative types. 

Well, we may have some explanation for that decision: Aston Villa seem to be under a contract ban. While Paul Lambert will have the funds to make a few signings this summer, he apparently won't have the freedom to extend the contracts of players such as Albrighton. And yes, that news stinks because it means that Marc is probably headed out the door. If that were the extent of the problem, though, it would be something with which we could live. 

But unfortunately the problem could very well affect the squad for more than just this summer. With Fabian Delph, Ron Vlaar, Gabby Agbonlahor, and Jack Grealish out of contract next summer and unable to be renewed now, they will almost certainly start attracting the attention of other clubs now. And when the option of cash to spend becomes available, it will become increasingly difficult to say no to offers for those players. 

At the very least, even if these players stick around for the summer, it creates a logjam of new deals to finish next May. If the club haven't been sold yet, it could be a real crisis. If they have been sold, it could mean committing more money to wages (in all likelihood, the players mentioned–with the possible exception of Gabby–will command higher wages than they do now) than is strictly necessary. That, in turn, could mean less money for transfers in a summer where the club will need them to make up for loans and stopgap moves made this summer. 

In some ways, it makes sense to allow new owners to make these decisions. But the prospect of this club acting in a sort of Lerner-induced-coma is frightening. These types of decisions seem safe to punt away now. What if an owners isn't found, though? What becomes of the club if they are in this position next year? It's even more difficult to sell a team with few marquee players. Something needs to be done, contracts need to be signed. 

Aston Villa are infuriating.