The latest name to be linked with a possible takeover of the English Premier League’s Aston Villa is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, The Birmingham Mail said.
Speculation on sites such as Football Courier suggests that the owner of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks has had talks with fellow American billionaire Randy Lerner over a possible takeover. Allen had talks in 2007 about buying Southampton and already has an interest in football as part-owner of the Seattle Sounders of the MLS, the report said.
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He is the 55th richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $17 billion, according to the Mail.
The Football Courier website quotes a source involved with Allen’s investment company Vulcan as saying about the Aston Villa link: “This is Americans talking to Americans”, the Mail said.
It is not the first rumor of a takeover at Villa, with American billionaire Mark Cuban linked with the club last month, while broadcaster and Villa season ticket holder Jonny Gould claimed there was interest from Azerbaijan, the report said.
Lerner assumed control of Villa in 2006 after a £62.6 million takeover was agreed with the club’s board. Last May he announced he wanted to sell the club in a statement at the end of the season, stating: “I owe it to Villa to move on, and look for fresh, invigorated leadership, if in my heart I feel I can no longer do the job”, the Mail said.
However, the club’s new chief executive, Tom Fox, said recently that Lerner had been re-energized in his love of the club and sounded like someone who bought it just last week, the Mail said.
“Randy Lerner just wants to come here as a fan and enjoy the experience and know that the club is generating pride for the people to whom it matters”, Fox said, according to the report.