While Aston Villa’s relegation was far from a positive development for the club, it may well have helped facilitate the sale of the club to new owners.
Sky Sports have reported that a primarily UK-based consortium is carrying out due diligence in a move to purchase the club, with a deal potentially rising as high as £100 million when it’s all set and done.
But more than that, the consortium in "pole position" is one of as many as eight groups looking to buy the Claret and Blues despite the club’s recent relegation. Of course, it’s not too difficult to see why the bids have come now when perhaps they didn’t in the past — Lerner’s selling price is believed to be around £75 million right now, a steep cut from the £200 million he first listed the club at when he put it up for sale.
The Sky report indicates that we could see this move pretty quickly — "significant progress could be made toward the deal in the next 48 hours" — with negotiations said to be at a "key stage." I’ll stay a little weary until I hear more on this, as things have fallen through in "due diligence" in the past, but this quickly-moving timeframe is fantastic news. If Villa can be sold before the season’s out, the new regime will be able to start generally on time — the thing that concerns me is a sale occurring in, say, August or September, where the new group wouldn’t have had a chance to get their guys in to assemble the type of squad Villa need to.
And obviously, while any consortium should be an improvement over Lerner — you’re not buying the club to sit on it in the Championship at this point — the best news from the Sky article comes from this little tidbit:
A group of Aston Villa-supporting businessmen are in pole position to purchase the club…
If we can get true-bred Claret and Blues in the running of this club, it’s a fantastic development, even if they aren’t the richest guys out there. Look what the consortium that bought Crystal Palace in 2010, a group of four fans, did for the club despite not having the deepest pockets. They got the club to the Premier League, kept them in it for a couple years, then looked for further investment. Obviously, deep pockets would be a plus from the start, but Villa blood being in charge of the club would be fantastic.
All this comes on the heels of Mervyn King’s hinting at an imminent sale, too, so this might not actually be false. Here’s to hoping.