Randy Lerner does not want Aston Villa to qualify for the Champion's League

I'll just duck for a second while the abuse and chairs are flung my way, but it's true. Even if he did initially, he certainly doesn't any more.

The thing we all forget about Lerner, while we're caught up in the emotional hurricane that is supporting Aston Villa, is that he is a businessman. So while we're all swooning over this knight in Falcon armour, as he whisks us off our feet with pub renovations, charity sponsorship deals and promises of five year plans to restore the club to the greatness of yore, his mind is and always will be wired to make profit.


And the best way to make a profit is, obviously, to keep your risks low and your returns high. And this is precisely what he gets with Martin O'Neill.

O'Neill is a businessman's dream. He operates a tight ship, small squad, treats the transfer kitty as if it were his own inheritance and never signs a swinging loud mouth who'll insist on six-figure wages and cost you a fortune in invoices from Max Clifford.

With O'Neill at the helm, Lerner is at the very least guaranteed a consistent middle table finish, regardless really of what squad of players is pasted together (usually last minute). So a year on year investment of £10m - £20m guarantees a recouping of the contemporary lifeblood of major football clubs, Premier League TV money, which will usually hit home at around the £40m - £50m mark, depending on where exactly the team finish and how often they appear on TV.

Little risk, high reward.

So let's now look at the risk/reward breakdown for Champion's League qualification.

There's no real way of predicting a precise figure, but it's probably safe enough to assume that in order to get into the Champion's League, Villa would need an investment of around £60m - £80m in players, given the squad we have at present.

However, according to a report by Mastercard, the winning finalist of the 2009 Champion's League scooped just under £95m in TV rights, sponsorship, prize money, gate revenues and other pay-offs. So that's the tournament winners only making a £20m - £40m profit, had they have needed to make the same startup investment that we'd have needed to make.

And besides, are we really going to win the tournament, folks?

That same study estimates that clubs who reach the knock out stages earn, on average, £36m in all revenues. This is a far more likely recoup for Villa to accomplish, but would serve us a loss between £24m - £44m and again, would we even be guaranteed of this?

Failing to qualify from our group and we're probably looking at around half that figure in overall prize money, or a loss of somewhere between £42m - £62m, depending on how much we invested in players.

And what if we don't even get into the Champion's League at all? Well, does anybody remember a little team called Leeds?

Look, I'm not suggesting we'll remain the "giant looking through the window" in English football for the rest of our lifetimes, but on the basis of these figures, the fact is that Lerner can either risk big and (all going well) lose half his investment; or he can risk small and as good as guarantee himself a decent return, year on year.

And folks, there's a reason he's the guy in the Falcon 900.