By Harry Sykes
An Aston Villa-supporting consortium are in pole position to buy the club in a deal worth up to £100million, according to a report.
Sky Sports claim that the consortium, which is partly based in the UK, partly in mainland Europe, has now been given access to the club’s accounts to carry out due diligence.
This is a major breakthrough in a possible takeover after eight separate groups came forward to buy the now-relegated Premier League club.
It is said that negotiations over a sale are at an advanced stage and significant progress towards finalising a deal could be made in the next 48 hours.
Villa revealed earlier this week they were in “extensive negotiations” to sell the club and it was reported in the Telegraph that American owner Randy Lerner had slashed the asking price to about £75million.
Mervyn King and David Bernstein quit the board at the start of the week to leave the club in turmoil. However cost-cutting and the announcement of 500 job losses at Villa Park, has cleared the path for meaningful takeover talks.
Sky Sports claim negoitiations were continuing on Thursday with lawyers in Birmingham and London and are at a key stage.
Villa were close to being sold to a Chinese consortium last summer, before Lerner dramatically called off negotiations while the transfer window was open. There was also interest from other parties in Switzerland, Germany and America.
Lerner is now keen to move aside after nearly 10 years as owner to concentrate on other business interests, after Villa’s relegation was confirmed five days ago. He is prepared to accept around half the original asking price of £150 million.
Lerner bought the club from Doug Ellis in 2006 for £65million. He has been targeted for vicious abuse by supporters this season and last attended a game at Villa Park in September 2014, which was his first visit in nearly two years.