Image: Ian Wilson Image: Ian Wilson

Aston Villa Football Club has announced that its owner, Randy Lerner, has agreed a deal to sell the club to Chinese businessman, Dr Tony Xia.

Subject to approval from the Football League, Dr Xia will take full ownership of the club and place himself as chairman in a deal worth a reported £60 million.

Aston Villa will play in the Championship next season after a dismal season saw the club relegated for the first time since the formation of the Premier League.

Randy Lerner bought the club in 2006 for £62.2m and initially enjoyed relative success, with the club challenging for European football. But Lerner gradually lost interest and put the club up for sale in 2014.

In a statement, Aston Villa said Lerner had "sought the right owner to take care of the club and restore fortunes".

Xia's first target is an immediate return to the Premier League before leading the club towards the top six and bring European football back to Villa Park.

The club's statement claims Dr Xia became an Aston Villa fan "many years ago".

After graduating, Dr Xia was one of 25, chosen from 1,000, highly-rated students sent to study overseas. He spent six years studying at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which included five months at Oxford. He now owns Recon Group - a holding firm which has five majority stakes in five companies listed in China and Hong Kong.