Villans owner announces that the Premier League club is up for sale.
The American - who formerly owned the Cleveland Browns of the NFL - assumed control at Villa Park in 2006, after a £62.6 million takeover was agreed with the club's board. A period of prosperity followed, with three sixth-placed finishes culminating in Europa League appearances.
Unfortunately, Villa failed to move on and capitalise on this success, and a sub-standard season saw Paul Lambert's side finish 15th in the Premier League in 2013-14. This stagnation has caused Lerner to rethink his status at the club, and, in a statement released on the club's official website, the American expressed his desire for Villa to find new leadership.
'The last several seasons have been week in, week out battles and having now come through this last season unfortunately limping amidst very meaningful injuries and constant sale rumours, I feel further that now is the time for me to look for new ownership and thus new leadership', read the statement. 'I have asked the world of Paul Lambert and Paul Faulkner and they have both delivered selflessly. On a personal level it is time for me, like the Shunammite, to dwell among my own and get on with other aspects of my career, following a sale.
'Above all, the debt I owe Aston Villa whether as owner, Chairman, custodian or simply as a fan is to put the Club first. To make good on that debt, I owe it to Villa to move on, and look for fresh, invigorated leadership, if in my heart I feel I can no longer do the job.'
Lerner expressed his delight at what he had achieved with the club, especially concerning the continuation of traditional community values.
'During my time with Villa, I have tried to strengthen and improve the club's physical infrastructure both at Villa Park and Bodymoor Heath while also trying to carry on the McGregor tradition of being mindful of the local community we serve', said the 52-year-old. 'Above all in this effort is the connection the club has made with Acorns; the caring, kindness and warmth that players, staff, managers and supporters have shown to Mr Strudley and Acorns has wiped away all disappointments and sobered my finest memories. Still, I can see now that it is time, if possible, to hand these privileges and responsibilities to the next person or group to take the Club forward. I am appreciative of the support I have received, even in these last years of comparative struggle when criticism was due, and will look on with others - with fingers crossed, for stronger future performance appropriate to our size and heritage'.
News of the sale was revealed by the BBC, who suggested the likely asking price to be roughly £200 million - almost £100 million less than Lerner's estimated investment in the club.
No one has yet come forward to express interest in purchasing the club, and any potential investor will know of the challenge facing them in achieving success in the Premier League.