Aston Villa, the English Premier League soccer team put up for sale by its American owner Randy Lerner, hired Arsenal official Tom Fox as chief executive officer.
Fox, a former National Basketball Association and Nike Inc. (NKE:US) executive, had been chief commercial officer at 13-time English champion Arsenal for five years. Villa won its opening match against Stoke 1-0 and plays Newcastle on Saturday.
“I was delighted and even flattered by Tom’s interest in the Villa job,” Lerner said in a press release. “His achievements at Arsenal speak for themselves and, above all, his reputation as a leader and team builder makes him, to my mind, a great fit to take our club forward.”
Lerner, former owner of the National Football Association’s Cleveland Browns, announced at the end of last season that he’s looking for a buyer for the Midlands-based team. Fox replaces Paul Faulkner, who stepped down in July.
Fox played a part in the Arsenal’s clothing agreement with Puma SE and the renewal of a contract with the London team’s main sponsor Emirates. The contracts are worth about 150 million pounds ($248 million) each.
“I consider it a huge privilege to have represented the club and to have helped move it forward,” Fox said in the statement.
He joins a team that’s struggled on and off the field in recent years. Villa had a loss of 51.8 million pounds on sales of 83.7 million pounds in 2013. Under Scottish coach Paul Lambert the team finished 15th, five points above the relegation zone. It won its last league title in 1981, a year before winning the European Cup.
“Aston Villa has always been an important club in English football and it has a long and rich history of success at the top of the game,” Fox said.
(An earlier version of this story was corrected to show Lerner sold the Browns.)
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