Randy Lerner ultimately sold Aston Villa this week At six.33pm, on Wednesday Might 18, 2016, came the news Aston Villa fans had been waiting for for two years. The club was below new ownership.Randy Lerner’s dysfunctional regime – which followed up blank-cheque spending with asphyxiating austerity and veered from chasing a Champions League place to tumbling out of the top flight – was finally over.To paraphrase T’Pau, our hands are now in China. Dr Tony Jiantong Xia is the new man carrying all our hopes and dreams.Lerner waved farewell with another bizarrely worded, rambling essay, similar to the now infamous “Shunammite statement” he posted when putting the club up for sale.Whatever his words meant, they were infused with one emotion.
Relief. One which, I think, we all share.With the deal close to completion, I asked Villa fans to pick out the good bits from Lerner’s 10-year reign.2006-2010: Backing Martin O’Neill – and knowing when to pull out@andrew_raeburn he gave a huge amount of money and the days below O'Neill were enjoyable. Fans shouldn't forget that— Jon Walker (@JonWalker1983) May well 18, 2016Lerner didn’t appoint Martin O’Neill as Villa boss but was happy to spend whatever was needed to land the Ulsterman’s targets. They gambled on a (gain fifa 16 coins) Champions League windfall but hit a glass ceiling at sixth.When O’Neill wanted yet more investment, Lerner refused and the manager walked.Spending without return was unsustainable – as Leeds and Portsmouth know all too well – and Lerner was probably appropriate to tighten the purse strings.Losing O’Neill, though, precipitated the dreadful appointments of ‘yes man’ managers, who were happy to abide by Lerner’s fiscal frugality.Martin O’Neill quit Aston Villa when he didn’t get the transfer funds he wanted (Picture: Getty Images)2007: Upgrading Bodymoor HeathWhen he was Villa boss, John Gregory once described Villa’s training ground as ‘a shanty town’ in an attack on Doug Ellis’ supposed lack of ambition.Six years later, Lerner made improving the facilities a priority.
Ellis had plans in place when the takeover was approved, but these were enhanced and the budget for the works doubled.Now, Bodymoor Heath – close to The Belfry and Drayton Manor theme park – is among the best in the country.2007: The Holte pub refurbIt wasn’t just the players who were well looked after in Lerner’s initial spurt of enthusiasm. The American ploughed £4 million of his own cash into restoring the old Holte Hotel, a 19th century pub next to Villa Park which had lay derelict for almost 30 years.Reopened as The Holte, it was namechecked by Lerner in his farewell statement as an example of his legacy.2007: Recognising the club’s heroes@andrew_raeburn Plenty. The training ground, Holte Pub refurb, 1982 team properly recognised & Martin O'Neil wasn't bad at the time.