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Memories of Acorns on the shirt - Lerner reiterates desire to sell Villa in bizarre statement

Randy Lerner has outlined his determination to put Aston Villa into "better-suited hands" in order to return the club to "its rightful place among England's elite".

Villa's relegation from the Premier League was confirmed last weekend following a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United, the culmination of an appalling season that has seen the club sack two managers amid a fractious relationship between supporters and the club's players and directors.

American Lerner announced his intention to sell in May 2014 and remains committed to finding a buyer to return the feel-good factor back to Villa Park.

In a statement, he wrote: "A nagging sense of inevitability set in against Leicester City [on September 13, 2015] despite the late lead we enjoyed. Can't say why although I doubt I'm alone...

"How many seasons after all can one hold on and hope to slide through? That is not Aston Villa. That kind of desperate existence is totally unacceptable, unbearable and totally incompatible with Villa's glorious past. That is not what, or why, I looked to get involved back then and it is why I've looked for some time to make a change.

"I can say certainly in good faith that I have tried to sell since my May 2014 announcement and put our beloved club in better-suited hands - but that hasn't happened.

"I write to Villa supporters to make clear that this relegation lies at my feet and no one else's. And because I believe in Aston Villa and know it will come back stronger and more able, with love and care for the community it serves, with the edge and attitude it must have to represent our history and tradition.

"Memories of Acorns on the shirt, and Ashley Young scoring a late winner against Everton still romantically nourish me. I know Villa will return better, stronger.

"I will continue to try to put the club into worthy hands as I have, and also do my best to position Villa for the quickest possible return to its rightful place among England's elite."

Villa attracted more unwanted headlines this week with their longest-serving player Gabriel Agbonlahor suspended for a second time this season after being pictured partying following their United defeat, while recently-appointed directors David Bernstein and Mervyn King resigned after a row with Lerner.