“I write to Villa supporters,” Aston Villa’s widely detested owner (and the Cleveland Browns’ widely detested former owner) Randy Lerner says in an open letter to fans today, “to make clear that this relegation lies at my feet and no one else’s.” Well, you don’t say!
Villa have occupied a tough position in the Premier League over the years. They’ve been staples in the top flight—Villa haven’t played in the second division since 1988—yet haven’t done much outside of the midtable yo-yo for the past decade-plus, bouncing up and down the league’s boring middle spots, never really threatening to finish high enough to be interesting yet rarely ever serious relegation candidates either.
In recent years, though, the Villans have regularly found themselves towards the lower end of the table. Increasingly, blame for this was apportioned to the distant American owner, who has shown a demonstrated willingness to go out and spend, only to wind up blowing the money on poor players and worse managers (yes, we’re looking at you, Sherwood).
This season has been the biggest disaster yet, with Villa this week finally sealing the relegation everyone knew was inevitable. Because of how terrible the team has played and the greater club mismanagement, fans have become increasingly vocal in their resentment for Lerner. Today, Lerner owned up.
Here’s Lerner’s letter, posted on the club’s website, in its entirety:
A nagging sense of inevitability set in against Leicester City 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.
Should Lerner succeed in selling the club, those visions of a baby-faced Ashley Young breaching Everton’s goal will have to nourish him romantically for the rest of time.