Doug Ellis explains what he believes was Randy Lerner's only real mistake as Aston Villa owner

The former Villa chairman says the American should have attended more of the club's matches during his decade at the helm.

Former Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis has said, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail, that the only real mistake made by owner Randy Lerner during his decade in charge of the club was not showing his face enough at the club's matches.

Lerner took over from Ellis at Villa Park in 2006 and the first years of his reign were characterised by big spending and impressive performances as Villa finished sixth in the Premier League table three years in a row under Aston Villa.

In those days, Lerner would semi-regularly attend matches, but since the sudden resignation of O'Neill in 2010 after a reported fall-out with the American, he has resembled something of a mythical figure in Birmingham, seldom heard and never seen.

Recent years have seen increasing fan dissent towards the owner, and frustration had been growing over his inability to find a buyer for the club despite putting Villa up for sale two years ago.

However, earlier this week it was announced that he had finally struck up a deal to sell the club to Chinese businessman Tony Xia and his Recon business group, bringing his decade-long tenure at the club to the brink of ending.

Ellis, who spent a total of 31 years as chairman of Villa between 1968 and 1975 and then 1982 and 2006 and used to attend games regularly, believes that despite the various complaints levelled at Lerner from Villa fans, his only true error was not striking up more of a relationship with the supporters.

The 92-year-old said, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail: "Randy Lerner shook hands with me on the understanding that he would not be coming to many matches. But he would watch it on his own private television, every single match in New York.

"He hasn’t done anything terribly wrong - I would complain about the lack of times he’s come over to Aston Villa. That’s what our loyal fans wanted to see - the owner."

Villa fans will now be desperately hoping that the sale to Xia leads to a new dawn at the club as they face the cold reality of life outside the top flight for the first time in nearly three decades.

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