Lerner chasing new multi-million pound sponsors

August 30, 2006

New Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is hoping to tie up a multi-million pound sponsorship deal for the midlands club which could come to fruition in time for the January transfer window.

Doug Ellis, Randy Lerner
Empics / NealSimpsonDoug Ellis chats with new chairman Randy Lerner during the 2006 Villa takeover

Sources close to the American billionaire indicate he has wasted no time in pressing ahead with plans to put together a massive financial package - possibly worth as much as £100million - alongside his own personal investment in Villa.

The deal, which would span the next 10 years, would be one of the largest in the Premiership and Lerner is believed to be already holding negotiations with major companies in an effort to push it through sooner rather than later.

Lerner is determined to investigate every avenue to bring money into Villa and bolster the coffers available to manager Martin O'Neill who is expected to complete the signing of Celtic midfielder Stilian Petrov before the transfer window closes.

His eye for bringing in money can be seen at the Cleveland Browns' 73,000-capacity stadium where each of the four gateways is sponsored and Lerner is understood to be weighing up his options over the naming rights of Villa Park.

The 44-year-old is also keen to raise Villa's worldwide profile after years in the doldrums.

Lerner became the majority shareholder of Villa last week when his bid of £62.6 million was unopposed and the formalities of the deal should be completed in the next few days.

O'Neill would like to bring in more than just Petrov before the window is closed for four months and he is considering signing former Celtic defender Didier Agathe on a short-term contract after he has trained with Villa for the past week.

Meanwhile, the Villa manager admitted he had rejected several offers for skipper Gareth Barry before he penned a new four-year contract.

O'Neill said: 'It has never been a case of us waiting for the right offer for Gareth. We've refused all offers coming in for him - and there have been some very decent offers.

'We have refused all of that to prove the point that we wanted to keep him around. He knows how popular he is here and he's a quality player.'