Thank You, Mr Lerner

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So, it’s official: Aston Villa Football Club is ‘for sale’. Randy Lerner’s statement confirmed what we have all been speculating about for months.

I have composed my own statement in response to Randy Lerner’s offering:

Mr Lerner,

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have tried to do for our club. Through the good, the bad and the ugly, I have no doubt that everything you have done has been with Aston Villa’s best interests at heart.

We had a good go and aimed high. Unfortunately, it did not work out. You put your trust in a manager and backed him to the hilt. We came close but in the end the model Martin O’Neill chose failed and he walked out. He left us with many problems, some that we are still paying for today.

Other appointments didn’t work out through a mixture of bad health, bad advice and bad management. I admire what you and Paul Lambert have tried to achieve, although it is unfortunate that it seems as if that plan won’t come to fruition either. Nevertheless, in my opinion we are being left in a better state than the one you found us in.

I am grateful that you have picked the correct time to put Aston Villa Football Club up for sale and that you have been true to the words that you stated when you arrived. Every one of us deserves better than seeing a great club languish in fifteenth place in the Premier League.

A lot has been said about your stewardship of the club. Mistakes have been made but, in general, I thank you for what you have done for Aston Villa.

I am not an accountant but, as I understand it, you have pumped plenty of your own money into the club. For three seasons we were high up in the Premier League table and in 2010, after nearly ten years without a Wembley appearanc,e we reached the League Cup Final.

The last few years have not gone as planned and investment in the playing side has shrunk but there was never any way that the spending of previous managers could continue. It simply wasn’t sustainable. Had we reached our goal of playing in the Champions’ League then I really think things would have been different.

As the investment decreased, results worsened and you became much less popular with the fans. However, I refuse to overlook the great deal of good that you have done, even if I have not enjoyed our recent decline.

For five years, Aston Villa was a club that supporters of other clubs were jealous of: we were run in a manner that gained us many admirers – on and off the pitch. When the Villans beat a host of clubs to the signature of Fabian Delph, Ken Bates commented on how Villa “did things properly.” Compliments from other clubs about the way business is conducted are very rare in football so it was comments like Bates’ that made me even prouder to be an Aston Villa supporter.

The infrastructure has undoubtedly improved. I have been lucky enough to take a tour of our training ground and it’s immense. My trip to Bodymoor Heath was arranged by a member of your staff as a thanks for my support over twenty years as a season ticket holder and it is this kind of customer service that I believe sets Aston Villa under your stewardship apart from other football clubs.

You have always put the club’s traditions at the forefront of your thinking, which is something I have always admired and appreciated, yet it is often overlooked. The bond the club has with Acorns is something you should be immensely proud of. Your generous donation this season was an act of class, as was forfeiting a shirt sponsor to allow us all to wear the name of Acorns on our shirts.

Ultimately, it is what happens on the pitch that people care about most. The last few years have not been good enough. The appointment of Alex McLeish was misguided and it was a mistake that still haunts the club. Paul Lambert’s “project” was something that many fans, myself included, embraced. However, the footbnall on offer this season has been hard to watch. What the future holds for Paul Lambert is unclear but we cannot have another season of struggle. The decision to focus on buying young and hungry players while ridding the club of high earners was a brave one but it has not worked.

With that in mind, I think you have obviously decided that enough is enough.

I will remember your ownership with fondness in general, not allowing the difficulties of the last few years to overshadow the very enjoyable seasons before then.

I trust you to ensure that the next “custodian” of Aston Villa Football Club is an appropriate one. I hope he shares your fondness for keeping with the tradition and history of this great club. I also hope he has deep pockets because I dream of seeing Aston Villa competing in the higher echelons of the Premier League. I could only look on with envy at Manchester City last weekend. I would love to see a rejuvenated Aston Villa Football Club, with its team challenging for honours. 1996 was a long time ago – too long for a club of our size to be without silverware.

Now is the right time for something new and I look forward to the future. I wish you all the best with your future plans and hope that you would enjoy any future success this club may have as much as myself and other supporters would.

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My name’s Dan Bardell. I’m 29 and I sit in the Upper Holte with my dad. This is our 22nd year as season ticket holders.

My favourite ever players are Ian Taylor, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Gareth Barry, Olof Mellberg, Martin Laursen and Stan Petrov.

My current favorites are Westwood, Clark and Grealish.

Feel free to comment or follow me on twitter: @danbardell

25 COMMENTS

  1. Why are you telling him what he has done? I think he is aware of how much he spent & what we achieved.

  2. You taking the piss mate? He’s run this club into the ground and now clears off with his tail between his legs.
    Randy, thanks for F all!

    • Disagree with your comment. Mr Lerner pumped his own cash into Villa as well as support all his managers.
      Please don’t forget his £24m signing of Darren Bent in January window under Houllier. He put down the offer for a player who saved our season.

      From a chairman’s perspective, he has invested in both players and training facilities.

      Villa’s problem is that key football decisions are being made by businessmen.

      • Mate he bought Bent to protect his investment nothing more nothing less and yes he invested in players yes but allowed O’Neil too much of a free reign, he at the end of the day signed the cheques.
        Lets not get carried away with this Randy lovein and then forget all the money was in the form of loans charged at interest via his holding company Reform Acquisitions.
        And please don’t tell me footballs now a business as that then begs the question what is it’s business? Footballs is its business and at the end of the day what is football> Entertainment and I think we can safely say most of us haven’t been very entertained for the last four seasons.

  3. I’d put my signature to that also, well written and how our goodbyes should be said, it’s all too easy to crucify someone when things don’t pan out the way we would like, but as you say he has put well over 100 million into making the team we support better, and for that we should always be grateful

  4. My memory wont be as fond. He treated us like a rich boys toty and tossed us to one side when bored. That nearly, and may still, destroy my club.Thanks randy but no thanks !

  5. I agree that Lerner has had the best of intentions, and it was exciting in the early days.
    But I can’t agree with the statement that Lerner has left the club in a better state than he left it in.
    For all the discontent in the Holte End, Ellis ran the club in a sustainable manner which more often than not was competing at the right end of the table. We might have had our ups and downs, but I don’t recall going into each season with the hope of nothing more than survival – and making massive losses at the same time

  6. Finally, someone credits Mr Lerner for his achievements at Villa.

    (1) Fully supported all his managers.
    (2) Invested in Bodymoor Heath training facilities.
    (3) Pumped his own cash into Villa at times.
    (4) Never interfered in football matters.

    Can we truly say that Paul Lambert has made best use of limited funds made available to him? So many of his signings not in starting 11.

    From a supporter’s view, I cannot ask much more of Mr Lerner. A top bloke. Sad to see him go.

    Still believe that Villa’s core problem is key football decisions being made by businessmen.

  7. I agree with all of you on here that say the footballing decisions being made by businessmen is where we are going wrong. More than spending stupid amounts of money with a new owner, I think a change of structure is needed at board level, maybe a director of football. Thanks Randy for trying to do your best shame it didn’t work out but you tried and you’re a man of your word – if I can’t keep it up I will let someone else try.

  8. Amazing Lerner has almost destroyed our club with his incompetence and some Villa fans are THANKING him! Is it any wonder we are crap? Fans should have been demanding he sold up 2-3 years ago as it was clear he had no interest. Bye bye Randy, thanks for nothing.

  9. Yes fans have been demanding that Lerner leaves . Well now they have had that wish granted . Lerner has decided to fall on his proverbial sword, taking all the blame for the recent bad form and still some fans are not satisfied , as they fear the club is in limbo with no new owner in sight .

    But is the club in limbo or will it be business as usual as Randy said it will be? I for one sincerly hope that is the case. And business as usual with no buyer in sight means players will still be bought & sold using a budget allocated to do so, as we are talking about the sale of a solvent footie club & not one that is bankrupt & the last thing an owner as financially astute as Randy would want to do is devalue the club by not preparing the squad for next season .

    But fans have got what they want & Randy is selling up & we may well have seen the last of him @ Villa as it would not suprise me if he has handed over the reins to the banks selling team & it will be they & not Randy who the 2 Pauls will be answerable to & not Randy untill the new owners come in!

  10. Agree with everything you say in the statement, I too would put my name to that, I go to every game and yes it has been a very tough 3-4 years and it breaks my heart the last 2 away games in particular we spend most the game taking the p out of everything, but it numbs the pain and is where we are at at the moment, but it will get better and I’m sure mr Lerner will sell to someone who can take us to where we all want to be…2-3 years of 9th 10th will do me for starters…

  11. Randy Lerner has done his best for the club, no doubt and like Ellis is a Villa man through and through. However, what matters now is the future. He must not destroy us by preventing rebuilding from taking place immediately. So please Randy work with Paul Lambert so a better team can start to take shape as soon as possible and don’t starve the manager of cash.

  12. Thanks for Nothing ? What planet have you guy’s been on. The only mistake he has made is using businessmen to run the club. He has transformed Aston Villa into a fantastic project for any new owner. That’s all clubs are nowadays so be grateful we never ended up like Leeds or Portsmouth BROKE.

    He upgraded all of our facilities the only letdown has been on the playing side (failing to get into the champions league and fighting relegation).

    So I too thank you for your efforts and the good financial position you have left us in.

  13. Good financial position????

    £90m in debt, a squad worth two bob and a transfer embargo. So if we are not bought pretty sharpish it leaves us in a position of having a team that on form could see us down by Christmas.

    Deary deary me, some people ought to take a serious reality check.

  14. What a horribly cringe-worthy read. I also don’t agree with the sentiment. The man has nearly relegated us in 4 of his 8 years, refused to communicate his intentions for the most part, employed a manager to a man we said we didn’t want, couldn’t be bothered to come and watch us, replaced outgoing quality with unknown gambles, gambled our future on a misguided strategy, turned fans against each other and the team and ruined most weekends for those of us who gave a sh*t!!

  15. Bad news and I feel sick to the pit of my stomach I would feel much happier with Lambert still in charge and the TV revenue money to spend than where we are now. Unrelenting website whinging from fans would drain my enthusiasm particularly when for the most part everything was done right. Learner put his faith in MON who blew all the cash ran and then sued the club, that is your money taken over the turnstile. The stars he developed all left, because of who we are and the level at which we play.. Regardless hardly any of Milner, Barry, Young or Downing left for champions league football, And for the most part they only got to watch it , admittedly you get a good view from the bench! Ellis never really had a crack at CL football and Learner did, he put his cash on the line and deserves not only our respect but gratitude for that. That season Spurs needed rescuing by Redknapp, Liverpool and Everton were nothing special, Man City just finding their feet so close but no cigar. My firmly held belief is that their is only a finite amount of quality in any given transfer window and it is inevitable that the big spenders get to eat first, however despite the aspirations of some of the more deluded we are not the alpha males of this pride more a hunter gather able to slip in and steel the odd juicey morsel but best off hunting on different pastures after smaller prey that can develop into the real deal whist tending our own stock. Regardless of who takes over particularly with fare play regs in place fiscally we are where we are. Learner has upgraded all our resources, we are not spurs or Everton in that we have a top notch 42k stadium bought and paid for he has also trimmed the wage bill And stayed up. My worry is the wasted transfer window. now is where the value is in players not going to the World Cup and looking to make decisions early we need to resign Delph, Vlaar and Albrighton for three years, ship out Hutton, Bent, Nzogbia, if they won’t go we play them they are all in the last years of their contracts need new ones worst case scenario we strengthen the bench and find some more depth. We still need more quality in reserve and I trust Lamberts judgement in the 4-6 million market we need 4-5 additional players including another centre forward (Lambert was buying 6 for 20 ish million last few years, 3 hits 3 misses) if you spend less than 4 million the outcome is more variable which ever way you look at it 20 million spent gives you 3 PL competitive players. Grealish and Carruthers, perhaps Donacien on the verge of moving up. Crowley was a real loss a midfield playmaker we may see on arsenals bench next year which would have meant coming off ours!
    It’s going to be a rough closed season we need to thank our lucky stars Lambert is not MON and not Learner ie not a quitter he has resilience sees the potential of aston villa and is willing to keep the train on the tracks without the security of knowing his fare, the bloke is class and sticks to the motto when the going gets tough, (the tough get going) work harder. That is a man who should the axe fall will not be out of work or the premiership for long. Respect and UTV Ivo

  16. A club run by businessmen???

    I think the only mistake that he has made is putting his cronies – Faulkner and Russell(both from his past life with MBNA) in the two key jobs. They are not businessmen. Russell is a beancounter who can’t even forecast – if he could we might not have got ourselves into the financial mess that led to the “Lamberk Project”. Faulkner is a customer services manager that has no idea how to run a £100m turnover sports business that is an industry like no other.

    Businessmen would not have allowed Martin O’Neill to buy players like Reo-Coker for £8m and leave them sitting on a bench destroying any re-sale value and there are numerous examples of this or worse. Businessmen would not allow the numerous PR gaffes – the biggest being the appointment of Mcleish alongside Faulkner’s own pathetic patronising rallying calls that are re-cycled every year – that have blighted our club in recent years. Businessmen would not have spent all of their time focusing on getting local Asians interested in football and down to VP (although I accept that is a laudable aim but has yielded very little in a monetary sense – unfortunately the key for success in modern football) whilst other clubs have been breaking into the huge Asian market on the other side of the world where people really want to watch British football and buy shirts.

    These muppets are neither businessmen nor football men. And that has been Lerner’s biggest mistake. He doesn’t want people who will offer challenge – he wants yes men who add no value to our club!

    I hope that the next owner puts a board in place that consists of a proper CEO, a strong Finance Director who can support the CEO with strategic input, a man who understands football and a marketing director. A proper board made up of proper professionals with experience of different elements of running businesses/football clubs. And I hope that that board, in conjunction with the owner, sets out a proper strategy for our club – both in a business (marketing plan etc.) and footballing (style of play, evolution of club and youth development etc.) and then appoints a manager and other appropriate resource that is capable of delivering this strategy.

    For too long now we have been a rudderless ship that is drifting from side to side and scraping through haphazardly. And Randy has been as responsible for this as anybody. God knows how he made money at MBNA – his Old Man must have left him with a good management team in there at least! He really should stick with law – if he is any good at that??

  17. Lerner ,is a honest man,
    Surrounded by idiots he now
    Realises it to late.he should sack lambert
    But he wont, he should remove faulkner,
    But he wont. He should make funds available
    For the new manager .
    But he wont. He will freeze funds,only by sales, loans.
    Will lambert remain faulkner wil be found another position
    And the decline will just limbo along. Any buyer can see the reason of fault
    Lies at lerners door from the very start .thanks-yanks , no way.

  18. RL has left us in a good position. Hmmmm Lets see.

    Do we have a manager….Thats a NO Even if Lambert stays he is a hands tied figurehead. Nothing to spend, nothing to train, and nothing to say.

    A CEO who is in the same position.

    Unless this club is sold quick, we are a team with nowhere to go.

    Face it to put a club up for sale and leave it ticking over is not the move of a person you should thank. We have been sold out as fans.

    Anyone with an ounce of sense would realize a new owner will make a clean sweep. RL has left a club with life support only clinging to a hope and a promise. I for one can not thank him for that. Those celebrating his putting the club up for sale should accept we are in limbo, that is a fact. What he should have done, as a responsible owner, is ask for investors offering some of his share base.

    No I can not thank anyone who uses my club as a plaything,something to discard when you get tired of it. Lack of character is what that shows, and AVFC are going to suffer as a result. Thank him, using an Americanism ” Yeah Right”

  19. I agree. He did a lot for the club and brought us some great moments. In my opinion he has picked the best time to leave and has done it respectfully. After all he has done for us Villa fans can only applaud him.

  20. He has made mistakes for sure but he made an honest attempt to bring to bring us success and came close with o,neill. He stands to lose maybe 100m of his own money. It wasnt an ego trip he thought he could do something for our club. Ultimately he failed at great personal cost. Show him some gratitude guys an those who are knocking him feel free to chuck 300m at it like he has an give us the benefit of your cash and expertise. I for one thank you for trying mr Lerner

  21. Well it is now Saturday Evening 17th and 10.0 p-m and it seems strange to me that we have had no word on what happened when Paul Lambert met Randy Lerner in the USA.

    So has he gone? Or is he still going to mess up another season. His buys are not clever and if money is avaialble the last person I would trust with it is Paul Lambert!

    I would like to see us sign Gareth Barry (and make him Captain)
    Jolian Lescott
    Zoltan Gera (who has been freed by Albion)
    Plus a quality Left Back
    And a top Striker

    I would part company with:
    Baker
    Tonev
    Herd
    Bent (or Crooked)
    NZogbia
    Holt
    Bertrand
    Wiemen
    Hutton
    Given (unless he will accept a Coaching Job)

    Finally I would ditch Lambert and make Gordon Cowans Manager if he is happy to take it on)

    If we get a new Buyer then I would go for Ancellotti

    Malcolm

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