Proof Media Playing Catch Up on Aston Villa Sale and Randy Lerner’s Plans

It’s funny what passes for hard news in this click-bait world. The ‘billionaire/consortium buyer for Aston Villa’ story has been rehashed for going-on two years now and has reached its full ‘cry wolf’ saturation point.

In fact, papers are running out of Americans billionaires to head up such speculative stories.

This week, with it being a slow Villa news week due to the international week, the latest Aston Villa sale story stated that Randy Lerner has just put his house up for sale. It was presented as a big shiny new clue to the Villa chairman selling up.

The Daily Telegraph got the ball rolling with the headline:

‘Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner puts £3m home up for sale as American edges towards Villa Park exit door’

Which set into play the usual media chain of copycats…

The Birmingham Mail went with

‘Aston Villa buyers will get Randy Lerner’s £3m farmhouse as part of deal’

With some Villa fan websites following suit.

Unfortunately though, it was hardly a scoop.

Old News

This ‘news’ is a year old, as Randy Lerner’s farmhouse was always been officially part of the club’s real estate package, along with Villa Park and Bodymoor Heath (see below). The assets combined were valued at £130 million+, when Merrill Lynch published their introductory brochure for potential buyers in May 2014.

aston villa property assets

Now, you’d think any journalist worth their salt would have done a bit of investigative journalism back then and obtained a copy. MOMS had a copy of it (from two sources) within weeks of its publication. We’ve know that Lerner’s Meadow Farm Estate had 4.5 toilets for a year now…

Due to the confidential nature of the brochure, we kept the brochure on the lowdown, but now there’s really nothing that isn’t public domain anymore from it. The only real info that was a concern to supporters was the issue of ‘naming rights’ being stated as one of the main selling points of the club, but we gave supporters a heads-up of the potential threat of the  naming rights issue back in June 2014.

(That news came from the first point listed as a benefit of Villa Park in the picture above).

Aston Villa Sale

Lerner officially announced in a statement to Villa fans on the 12th of May 2014 his heart wasn’t in it anymore and he was selling up. You don’t change your mind suddenly after a statement like that. He would have surely had the idea to get someone like Tom Fox to reinvigorate the commercial structure and potential earlier, if he was still in it for the long haul.

Since he failed to sell the club before the end of last season (he was obviously trying before his public declaration), Fox was no doubt brought in to make sure Villa would become more attractive, which would help the asking price.

The unexpected spanner in the works of the club’s sale came with Paul Lambert’s failures on the pitch, making relegation a real threat once again. In light of the new £5.14 billion TV rights deal on the horizon (Lambert was sacked shortly after that announcement), any relegation would melt the golden carrot of the TV riches.

Even before the deal was announced, the growth in media revenue was front and centre in the sales pitch of Aston Villa, as seen in the below excerpt from the sales brochure:

Aston Villa TV revenue

As a result, I would recommend any Villa supporter to ignore these half-baked press buyer stories until Villa’s fate and Premier League status is known.

I asked Tom Fox at the Aston Villa Supporters Trust AGM if financial plans had been made if the club were to find themselves relegated? He indicated they had been discussed, but it is hard to think Lerner has set a double price tier for selling, depending on staying up or getting relegated, as some press have indicated.

If Villa got relegated, would Lerner not be wiser to give it one season to see if Villa bounce back up, as the new TV deal cycle doesn’t actually start until the 2016/17 season. The difference in waiting a single season could be worth millions to the Villa chairman.

As always Villans, be careful what you believe when you read the press. UTV