Tim Sherwood in the dark over shock £150m Villa takeover
Consortium led by former Arsenal defender Tony Adams and ex-Chelsea executive raising capital for takeover
Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood says he is in the dark about a takeover bid by a consortium led by former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams.
Sky News broke the sensational story on Thursday, claiming that Adams had "approached City investors" about a proposed £150m takeover at Villa Park. The 48-year-old Adams has apparently been working with Paul Smith, a former executive at Chelsea FC and sports agency IMG, on a bid for the struggling Premier League club.
But Sherwood, who took over earlier this year and has guided Villa to an FA Cup final against Arsenal at the end of this month, claimed ignorance when the story was put to him on Thursday afternoon. "I haven't heard anything," he said, shortly after a meeting with current Villa owner Randy Lerner.
"I had a chat with him [Lerner]... he's as worried as I am about the [relegation] situation because we're still not safe but I've heard nothing about [a takevoer]."
The news of a Smith/Adams bid caught the football world by surprise but according to Sky News the pair "have approached a number of private equity and other investment firms in recent weeks" with the objective of raising approximately £75m in new equity to finance an offer for the once-great Midlands club.
The remaining £75m required for a takeover would, says the broadcaster, be a new debt, "with a unit of Goldman Sachs understood to have been sounded out about providing the additional capital".
It's reported that Adams and Smith have formed a new company called Halo, "which they intend to use as a vehicle to acquire Aston Villa and minority stakes in other leading football clubs". Among the other clubs being targeted by Halo are Portugal's Sporting Lisbon and Inter Milan. It's also believed that the company is interested in making inroads into the Brazil and Belgium leagues with a source telling Sky News that the pair's intention is to build "a long supply chain of playing talent".
Lerner, an American tycoon who paid £60m for Villa in 2006, has wanted to sell the club for more than a year. In 2014 he appointed Merrill Lynch to oversee the sale and Sky News claims "dozens of parties are since said to have lodged an interest".
But any potential sale of the Midlands club will be dependent on their on-field fortunes this month. Despite reaching their first FA Cup Final in 15 years, Villa are 14th in the Premier League table and just two points above the relegation zone.
As Sky New points out, relegation to the Championship would have a "profound impact on the value of Aston Villa", and jeopardise their chances of benefiting from the Premier League's £5.14bn television rights deal that begins in the 2016-17 season.