The shocking truth of what Randy Lerner has in store for Villa and why he brought the club in the first place.
Considering the amount of money Randy Lerner injected into Aston Villa during his first four seasons as chairman of the club, it’s always a surprise to hear Villa supporters complaining that he is scrimping with the cash.
The modern day football fan though is used to the notion that success in football is relative to the amount of money a club spends on its squad. This thinking though was something that the Villa chairman was banking on, the recently surfaced plans for Aston Villa FC are to be believed.
It seems Villa supporters were right to be suspicious of a recent drop in Lerner’s Villa spend.
In recent years, the alarm bells of discontent were quieted by explanations that Villa adopting a policy of financial thrift was a case of the club reigning in spending after the Martin O’Neill era. The club after all, had to come in sync with the financial fair play rules.
Also, to appease disgruntled fans, much was made of the club’s current manager Paul Lambert’s ethical policy of buying young and hungry players, that would save the club on wages and give them good sell-on profit potential. After all, it made good business sense to work in a more traditional way.
While most supporters bought wholesale such theories, both trains of thought, it now turns out were simply smokescreens for what really was happening to the club.
What’s Going On…
The second part of the great Lerner Villa revolution was meant to come shortly after he sold his interest in the NFL team the Cleveland Browns. An extra injection of cash from the sale in many supporter’s eyes would have seen Villa as serious Champions League material. The problem is, according to evidence that has recently surfaced, Lerner was never really interested in soccer. For him, it was always about football…American football.
The Cleveland Browns was always his dad’s team and like any son, he always wanted to better his dad. He learnt the ropes with the Browns, but his NFL aspirations it turns out, were very much away from Cleveland.
Lerner was never too keen on the Browns. For starters, could the team have a more bland name or team colours? A plain orange helmet too. Hell, they didn’t even have any cheerleaders. To Lerner, the whole franchise in a word was ‘boring’.
The NFL’s attempt at expanding its league overseas with frequent games at Wembley Stadium had always captured Lerner’s imagination though.
Randy Lerner’s Villan Plan
From documents and pictures (see below) leaked recently on the internet, it seems Lerner’s plan was simple; his aim was to own the first proper NFL franchise off American soil. When Doug Ellis put Aston Villa FC up for sale in 2006, opportunity knocked and the stars started to align for Lerner.
The first step of his overseas NFL franchise was to secure a suitable helmet logo and exciting colours for his overseas American football team. For £62.6 million his purchase of Villa would not only give him that, but a decent stadium and a cool name for his franchise – ‘The Villans’.
The ‘UK Villans’ – he liked the sound of that.
With the purchase of the football club secured from Ellis, Lerner set about redesigning the club’s badge to prepare for its transfer of usage to the Villan American football team. As well as the club’s lion, he would also have a single star taken from the USA flag to symbolise its association with his homeland.
To distract the UK press and the club’s supporters from learning about his master plan, the millions he gave Martin O’Neill on players was nothing more than a way to dupe supporters into dreaming about Champions League football. His advisers calculated that O’Neill was incapable of getting Villa beyond sixth place in the league, so the team would never have the success that might distract from its new destiny to transform and evolve into a NFL franchise.
Potential Champions League football was a placebo to distract fans, while the Irish man in charge was nothing more than a Trojan Horse to achieve the new chairman’s dream.
His Trojan Horse unfortunately found out about his Lerner’s plans and walked out of the club.
But Lerner’s plans had already fire-up in earnest. Trips to the UK became less frequent as he brokered a deal to eventually sell the Browns and reinvest his capital secretly into the Jacksonville Jaguars, a Florida-based NFL franchise that had rumoured plans to become a UK-based franchise.
Meanwhile, he instructed his CEO at Villa Park, Paul Faulkner, to now only recruit managers who were guaranteed to last no more than a single season. This would destabilise the fanbase and with the constant threat of relegation, they would then see his plans of transforming the club into an NFL team, as granting them a small mercy and an end to their eternal suffering.
It was no coincidence that the news that the Jacksonville Jaguars had secured games at Wembley Stadium for four consecutive seasons in a bid to build up a UK fanbase, broke at a similar time to Lerner finally selling his stake in the Browns.
All the remaining dots of Lerner’s plan seemed to have joined swiftly since, judging by the kit design pictures that were leaked:
It seems that Lerner’s vision of the ‘UK Villans’ American football team is closer to reality than anyone would dare to think.
We understand supporters will still find this hard to digest despite the exposé of these secret designs. But, as you can see, it seems Villa’s latest sponsor Dafabet were already in on the plans this summer, with their logo appearing on the designs. [cont…]