Football

Villains owner 'as dedicated as ever'

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Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is as "dedicated as ever" to bringing success to the club despite a lack of investment in new players over the past year.

That is the belief of Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner, who insists the ambition is still to challenge at the top level both in the Barclays Premier League and Europe.

"Randy is as dedicated as he's ever been towards Villa, absolutely," he said.

Villa have achieved three successive top-six Premier League finishes but are languishing in the bottom half of the table heading into the festive period.

They have not spent any money on new signings in 2010, although Stephen Ireland was rated at £8million as the makeweight in the part-exchange deal that saw James Milner move to Manchester City in the summer.

But Faulkner is quick to defend Lerner's transfer record.

He added: "When he bought the club, you knew you were going to have to pay the price to buy it and then spend on players initially over a number of years.

"We've spent £140million on players and - net - it's still nearly £100 million.

"Over the four and a half years Randy has been here, probably only Manchester City have spent more.

"You've also got to spend on infrastructure which we did with redeveloping Bodymoor Heath [Villa's training ground] and in improving and upgrading parts of Villa Park."

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