Randy can’t keep his hands out of his pock­ets!

Midweek Sport - - NEWS - By FRANK MCCAULEY

RANDY LERNER coughed up a mind-bog­gling £12MIL­LION in just 10 months to keep chang­ing his man­agers at As­ton Villa.

Lerner was forced to fork out as­ton­ish­ing costs to pay off both Martin O’neill and Ger­ard Houl­lier and then poach Alex Mcleish from bit­ter ri­vals Birm­ing­ham, in shock fig­ures re­leased yes­ter­day.

Villa posted losses of nearly £54m for the 2010/11 fi­nan­cial year, in­clud­ing “ex­cep­tional charges” of £12m for the man­age­rial merry-go-round that started when O’neill walked out in Au­gust 2010.

Houl­lier was then ap­pointed in Septem­ber be­fore pock­et­ing a £2m golden hand­shake in June last year fol­low­ing his decision to stand down on health grounds.

Villa owner Lerner then paid around £3m in com­pen­sa­tion to pinch Mcleish from St An­drew’s and take him across the Sec­ond City.

Lerner has in­vested a fur­ther £25m over the last year to ease crip­pling debts at the club – but Villa last night in­sisted they had taken the hit to en­sure fu­ture sta­bil­ity for the club.

Op­er­a­tion

Chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Robin Rus­sell said: “Given the chal­leng­ing eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment we’ve been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in the West Mid­lands – and in­deed glob­ally – we are pleased with the pos­i­tive trends in our fi­nan­cial per­for­mance.

“The board are con­fi­dent that the ac­tions taken since the end of the 2010-11 fi­nan­cial year have gal­vanised the long-term sta­bil­ity of the club and given us a bet­ter plat­form on which to build for fu­ture suc­cess.”

Mcleish is fac­ing a bat­tle to avoid rel­e­ga­tion on the field, with Dar­ren Bent ex­pected to miss the rest of the sea­son with rup­tured an­kle lig­a­ments. The Eng­land in­ter­na­tional also faces the prospect of miss­ing Euro 2012, with Mcleish last night ad­mit­ting he fears the worst for the £24m man.

He said: “He may miss the Eu­ros as he’s go­ing to have to pos­si­bly have an op­er­a­tion.

“I’m gut­ted for Dar­ren. You don’t want to see any player have that bad luck. It’s a big loss for us.

“I’ve texted him a cou­ple of times and I’ve also spo­ken to him.

“Right now he’s not at the train­ing ground and it’ll be a cou­ple of days be­fore we see him, but I know he’s gut­ted.

“We have oth­ers play­ers who will have to take the re­spon­si­bil­ity, play­ers such as Gabby Agbonlahor and Stephen Ire­land.

“But it’s a great chance for them to show they can han­dle that type of re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

SHELLING OUT: Lerner

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