Lerner leaves door open to sale
5:02pm Sunday 20th April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner has insisted he will not address rumours that he is ready to sell the club until the end of the season.
Lerner released a statement on Sunday afternoon which is likely to further fuel the speculation that he is ready to call time on his ownership of the Villa Park club.
In it, he said: "As regards my personal role at the club and the steady rumours of a sale, I will address these after the season.
"[Manager] Paul Lambert, [chief executive] Paul Faulkner and I speak daily and remain committed to the immediate job of limiting distraction and confusion in order that Villa have the best chance possible of finishing on a strong note."
Lerner's statement came after Saturday's 0-0 home draw with Southampton which left Villa in 15th place in the table and five points above the drop zone with four games still to play.
He remains steadfastly behind manager Paul Lambert after a week during which coaches Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa were suspended.
Lerner said: "Following the point yesterday at Villa Park, there have been stories about my selling the club.
"On a personal level, I had hoped the emphasis would have been on the amazing effort on the part of our manager and our players to re-group throughout a very difficult week.
"Injuries to Libor (Kozak) and Christian (Benteke), compounded with the early loss of Jores (Okore) and the difficult rehab of Charles (N'Zogbia) have no doubt left Paul with far less to work with than is fair.
"Still, Paul Lambert has done nothing but work within the parameters I've set, put the club first and continue to trust his players."
Lambert was equally praiseworthy of Lerner and his contribution to the club.
"Randy's always been great with me as an individual and someone to talk to," said the manager.
"What he's done here has been phenomenal. We've got an incredible training ground due to him and an incredible stadium, it's been fantastic.
"He has spent one hell of a lot of money since he's been at the club.
"Without a doubt (Lerner is still passionate about this club). I don't think you do what he's done and not be passionate about it. He loves this club."
However, Lambert also admits the team will continue to struggle in the Premier League unless more funds can be made available for big-name players.
He added: "There's loads of work to be done in this league. The finances are vital for this league - the better the players you buy, the better chance you have of doing something.
"We've done it for two years and tried to keep this club in the league and to keep it going. But this club's too big, far too big, that's me being honest.
"All the players I've been linked with cost one hell of a lot of money. If you don't have it then you have to work within the parameters that you've got.
"The size of this club and the fan base it's got, and the way things have happened in the past, winning the league and the European Cup, these supporters don't want to see a club like this for the past few years.
"But this league and how hard it is, you've got to look at it and say, 'Okay, we can go and get x, y and z'. But the big ones I've been linked with, you couldn't do it."