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Lerner moves closer to selling Villa with new agreement

Randy Lerner has granted one group exclusivity in negotiations for Aston Villa, according to the Telegraph.

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Randy Lerner is one step closer to selling Aston Villa, according to a Monday report from the Telegraph’s John Percy.

The Telegraph alleges that Lerner has granted exclusivity to one of the three groups reportedly in the running to buy the club, meaning a sale could be imminent in the next six weeks. Those three groups are believed to be ones led by an unknown American group, one by an unknown Chinese group, and one chaired by Paul Smith, the former Chelsea executive.

That last group is also the one former Arsenal man Tony Adams is believed to be involved with, and our friends at The Short Fuse took a look at some of his relationships with Azerbaijan a month ago; it’s certainly worth a look. Over time, there have been a lot of red flags with this group — one report indicated they only had half the capital to pull off the deal, meaning the club would be saddled with another £75 million in debt upon completion of the takeover.

The other groups, of course, are unknowns, meaning it’ll be interesting to see if further details emerge on which group was granted exclusivity.

If the news that three groups are seriously interested in Villa is to be believed, it should mean good news for getting a positive set of owners — though Lerner’s anxiousness to sell the club makes me nervous.

Regardless, it’s becoming more and more evident the club needs to be sold this summer, in stark contrast to my opinion from a month ago. The word last month that Michel Platini and UEFA are looking to "ease" Financial Fair Play regulations means finding a solid owner is more important than ever, especially one who will be able to inject further capital in the club upon a takeover.

A takeover would also grant the club a period of stability, presuming CEO Tom Fox and manager Tim Sherwood stay on, which we’d both assume they would.

On the downside, however, six weeks from now puts us past the middle of July, meaning Villa’s business in the transfer window might have to be rushed at the end, rather than wrapped up early in preseason camp.

Which group are you most interested in seeing purchase Villa? The American or Chinese bids? Or would you prefer the club return to British hands? Let us know in the comments!