Venezuelan billionaire targets Villa for buy-out

LONDON: An anonymous Venezuelan billionaire is negotiating with Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis about buying a major stake in the Premiership side.  

His representative Mel Goldberg, a London-based sports lawyer, has told Ellis the Venezuelan wants to buy a 29.9 percent stake in the struggling Midlands club, which would make him the largest overall share-holder.  

Goldberg, who refuses to name his client for “security reasons”, said further talks are planned next week when 79-year-old Ellis returns from holiday.  

He confirmed that his client had tried to buy a stake in Chelsea before Roman Abramovich became the new owner at Stamford Bridge.  

Goldberg admitted that the person he is representing is a former FIFA referee, who has made millions from several ventures, including property development.  

He also revealed that if the deal goes through there are no plans to remove Ellis as chairman.  

Goldberg told the Birmingham Sunday Mercury: “The situation is that my client and his consortium had a bid to buy just under 30% of Chelsea blown out of the water by the Russian deal.  

“Roman Abramovich offered much more money than us and to pay off the club debt which we were not interested in doing.  

“My client is a very substantial person and he is still interested in investing in an English football club.  

“For security reasons, he wants to keep a low profile but he is a football fan with a good knowledge of the English Premiership. There are a few options being considered but Villa fit the bill in terms of the sort of club he is looking to buy.” – AFP 

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