Rumours have been spreading that Aston Villa could be the subjects of a take-over bid at the end of the season, and current chairman Randy Lerner's comments to the team's official website will do little to make these rumours go away.
The brief official statement emphasised Saturday's goalless draw against Southampton and the performance of Paul Lambert during the 2013-14 Premier League season, as Lerner remained as evasive as possible when discussing a takeover:
As regards my personal role at the Club and the steady rumours of a sale, I will address these after the season. Paul Lambert, Paul Faulkner and I speak daily and remain committed to the immediate job of limiting distraction and confusion in order that Villa have the best chance possible of finishing on a strong note.
The Telegraph's Matt Law reported on a potential takeover by "American billionaires" earlier this week, stating any bid would be dependent on the club's ability to remain in the Premier League:
Aston Villa are set for a £200 million takeover if they manage to stay in the Premier League.
It is understood an American consortium, fronted by two billionaires, wants to buy Villa but will withdraw from the deal if the team drop into the Championship. [...]
Early indications suggest the consortium would be prepared to invest heavily in trying to significantly improve Villa's playing staff. It is unclear whether a takeover would affect the future of manager Paul Lambert.
Lerner still seems to be in Lambert's corner, however, as he elaborated on the manager's work this season in his statement:
Injuries to Libor and Christian, compounded with the early loss of Jores and the difficult rehab of Charles have no doubt left Paul with far less to work with than is fair. Still, Paul Lambert has done nothing but work within the parameters I've set, put the Club first and continue to trust his players.
In the age of big-budget clubs and foreign investors, Villa have had a difficult time playing a meaningful role in the Premier League in previous seasons. And while relegation this season seems to have been avoided with just a handful of matches remaining in the season, the club can mainly thank the efforts of Christian Benteke for that.
The Belgian striker suffered a gruesome achilles injury just months before the upcoming World Cup and will in all likelihood not be available at the start of next season following surgery earlier this week, as reported by Het Laatste Nieuws' Kristof Terreur:
Christian Benteke finally underwent surgery on his damaged achilles tendon. Operation went well, I'm told. #AVFC— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) April 14, 2014
Without Benteke's offensive input, Villa are expected to struggle once again next season. Should the Belgian make a swift recovery, top teams looking for attacking help will be waiting in line to swoop up the forward with the type of offer smaller teams like Aston Villa simply can't say turn down.
Will Villa have new ownership next season?
A foreign investor could greatly help balance the team's budget, not only allowing Lambert (or a new manager) to keep hold of some of his top players like Benteke, but also to bring in new talent to add to the existing core of players.
And with Lerner refusing to comment on any potential takeover as opposed to explicitly denying the news, fans have to assume the foreign interest is indeed very real.