By Phil Jennings
RANDY Lerner’s years as Villa owner may be long gone – but the American still has a £30million link to the club.
Lerner’s reign began well enough and buying club with Martin O’Neill freshly installed as manager looked to be a dream ticket.
But while Villa achieved three top six finishes during Lerner’s time at Villa Park, a row with O’Neill and an apparent loss of interest meant he lost his initial shine.
Lerner spent most of his latter years at the club trying to sell them – while overseeing Villa’s relegation to the Championship.
Eventually, he sold up to Chinese businessman Tony Xia.
That landed them with severe financial problems as Villa failed to win promotion two seasons running after big spending behind the scenes.
Xia sold to Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris last summer but Lerner is now set for a more than generous windfall
The Express & Star report that Lerner will pick up a cheque for £30million if Villa beat Derby on Monday and return to the top flight.
This was agreed when Xia bought the club from Lerner. Xia paid £76.2million for Villa, but there was a clause which would see Lerner handed an extra £30million if they were promoted within three seasons.
But quite who has to stump up the cash is unclear as it was originally Xia’s Recon Group who had promised the payment.
Which means Lerner would not ever be entitled to the sum if Villa lose to the Rams at Wembley in a game worth around £170millon to the winners.
Edens and Sawiris have put £68million into Villa since they effectively rescued the club from probable administrator last summer. Xia is now a minority stakeholder despite remaining on the board as co-chairman.