- Premier League
Villa owner to address sale reports
Aston Villa's American owner Randy Lerner has said he will answer reports he is considering selling the Midlands club at the end of the season and has given manager Paul Lambert a vote of confidence after a troubled spell.
Two of Lambert's long-term allies, assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karso, were suspended this week, and some supporters have called for the former Norwich manager's sacking after a five-game run that brought a solitary point and left Villa in danger of relegation.
But former Cleveland Browns owner Lerner cited injuries to strikers Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak, plus midfielder Charles N'Zogbia and defender Jores Okore, as reasons for Villa's struggles on the field and praised the Scot for his "amazing" effort.
The Villa chairman said in a statement: "Following the point [against Southampton] at Villa Park, there have been stories about my selling the club. On a personal level, I had hoped the emphasis would have been on the amazing effort on the part of our manager and our players to regroup throughout a very difficult week.
"Injuries to Libor and Christian, compounded with the early loss of Jores and the difficult rehab of Charles, have no doubt left Paul with far less to work with than is fair. Still, Paul Lambert has done nothing but work within the parameters I've set, put the club first and continue to trust his players."
Lerner, who bought Villa in 2006, did not deny suggestions he is ready to sell his stake in the 1982 European champions but said their immediate focus should be on staying in the Premier League.
He added: "As regards my personal role at the club and the steady rumours of a sale, I will address these after the season. Paul Lambert, [chief executive] Paul Faulkner and I speak daily and remain committed to the immediate job of limiting distraction and confusion in order that Villa have the best chance possible of finishing on a strong note."