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Lerner agrees Aston Villa sale

Aston Villa have announced owner Randy Lerner has agreed a deal to sell the club to Dr Tony Jiantong Xia's Recon Group.

Lerner has agreed to sell 100 per cent of the ownership rights to Xia's holding company, subject to approval from the Premier League, for a reported £60million.

Villa, who finished bottom of the Premier League this season, have also confirmed that they will announce the appointment of a new manager imminently, with former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson and ex-Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo reported to be the frontrunners.

"Aston Villa is pleased to announce that an agreement has been signed today for the sale of 100 per cent ownership by Randy Lerner to Recon Group owned by Dr Tony Jiantong Xia subject to the approval of the Premier League and the Football League," a Villa statement confirmed.

"Once those approvals have been granted and the new board members approved under the fit & proper rules of both leagues, Dr Xia will become chairman of Aston Villa. The club will announce the appointment of a new manager shortly."

Villa have endured a dismal season, suffering relegation from the Premier League for the first time in their history after winning just three of their 38 matches, while manager Remi Garde - who replaced Tim Sherwood in October - was sacked in March.

A top-down review of the club's hierarchy has also seen the departures of a number of officials, including CEO Tom Fox, sporting director Hendrik Almstadt and directors David Bernstein and Mervyn King.

But the club are confident that Xia, who they say is a long-time supporter, can achieve his significant ambition of establishing them as a top-six club in the top flight with unparalleled support in China.

"Dr Xia decided to buy an iconic football club in England as the cornerstone of his Sports, Leisure and Tourism Division. He became a fan of Aston Villa many years ago and is delighted at the opportunity to become the new owner," their statement added.

"Dr Xia's immediate objective is to return Aston Villa to the Premier League and then to have the club finish in the top six, bringing European football back to Villa Park. He plans to make Aston Villa the most famous football Club in China with a huge fan base."

In a farewell message posted via the club's website, Lerner said: "Tony has built his career around infrastructure. He is certainly a hugely successful businessman but importantly for me he is passionate about architecture, site design and planning.

"His commitment to invest in the squad, and leadership at Bodymoor Heath was expressed early on but as we visited together, and had some unrushed time to discuss his plans, Tony's excitement to develop Villa Park shone through. 

"I remain convinced that this is a crucial part of the club's future as it provides a critical, long-term second source of revenue and therefore sustainability for the club from which squad-funding can potentially come.

"It is with that that I want to say thank you, and to wish Tony every success going forward."