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American billionaire Randy Lerner puts Premier League team Aston Villa up for sale

Randy Lerner, right, takes his seat during the Barclays Premiership match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park in 2006. Lerner announced the sale of Aston Villa on Monday. (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

For those who have $300 million to spare, there’s an elite soccer team for sale — Aston Villa. The Premier League team, which finished 15th this season, went on the market after owner Randy Lerner — an American businessman worth about $2 billion — decided to sell the team after eight years of ownership, NBC reports.

Lerner’s decision comes after what he calls “seemingly constant rumors” circulated about his future with the Midlands club. Lerner said in a statement today on the team’s official Web site:

“I have come to know well that fates are fickle in the business of English football. And I feel that I have pushed mine well past the limit. The last several seasons have been week in, week out battles and having now come through this last season unfortunately limping amidst very meaningful injuries and constant sale rumors, I feel further that now is the time for me to look for new ownership and thus new leadership.”

Lerner has engaged Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the sale of the team, according to his statement.

As to possible buyers of Aston Villa, right now it could be just about anyone with deep pockets. The English team could even stay in American hands. Billionaires in the United States are increasingly scooping up Premier League teams. Business mogul Malcom Glazer and his family, worth $4.5 billion, owns Manchester United; entrepreneur Stan Kroenke, worth $4.7 billion, is the largest shareholder of Arsenal; investor John Henry, worth $1.7 billion, owns Liverpool; and businessman Ellis Short, worth $1.4 billion, owns Sunderland.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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