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Lerner outlines ambitious plans for Aston Villa

Lerner, who bought Villa from Doug Ellis just over a year ago, believes the managerial qualities of Martin O'Neill have been a major contribution to his massive lift in expectations at Villa Park.

The American, who has divided his time equally between running the affairs of Villa and his Cleveland Browns American football team, said: "I suppose one has to be careful when you are comparing yourself with clubs who are operating on a different level.

"But it is our ambition is to compete with them although there is still a lot of work to be put in to build up Villa to that sort of level.

"It will be the multi-growth of our business which we hope will eventually enable Villa to compete with the likes of these clubs.

"Attendances and other sales are up but at the present time they do not balance the books. It was not expected they would.

"I don't know if necessarily buying players and throwing them into the team would be a direct indicator of future success. You need a group of players who play together over a period of time.

"Probably what we would like to do is to add on in a tactical and practical way over a period of time to strengthen what we are already building.

"Obviously, you need to spend to compete and to spend more on a higher level.

"At the same time, you also need to be doing other things effectively.

"At times, transfer fees have surprised me. But it is a dynamic business. People live with transfer fees and it is something you deal with."

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