Two of Doug Ellis's former right hand men last night welcomed the news that US billionaire Randy Lerner is poised to take control of Aston Villa.

Bruce Langham, who was made chief executive by Ellis when the 82-year-old relinquished the role in 2003, said it would be the "catalyst" for future success at the club.

The former Fulham chief executive said Lerner's takeover of Villa followed years of "demand for change" by supporters.

But he would not comment on the Ellis' style of leadership at Villa Park or whether he believed the octogenarian chairman should have stepped down earlier.

Former deputy chief executive and finance director Mark Ansell, however, said "it was no secret" that he left the club following a bust up with Ellis because he thought the chair-man should have quit earlier.

Mr Langham has rarely commented on Villa since he left the club in May 2005 after only a year in the chief executive's post.

However, he told The Birmingham Post yesterday: "I think Randy Lerner coming to Villa is excellent news.

"Getting Martin O'Neill as manager was good news and now it looks as if there is going to be more investment.

"It has been proved at other clubs that if you have an owner with deep pockets it does bring success.

"There has been pent up demand for change from Villa fans, certainly when I was there, and long before.

"Villa was only going to be taken over when Doug decided, and he only decided that recently.

"I am sure he will still want to be involved, but whether Lerner wants him to be is another matter."

Langham said the Lerner takeover would create a "virtuous cycle" at Villa.

"If you can invest more, you can improve the squad and bring in a decent manager. This brings success on the pitch," he added.

Langham, who is currently involved on the board of a Scottish club, ruled out a return to Villa Park.

But he said he could "never say never" on a possible move back to the Premiership.

Ansell described the acceptance by the Villa board of the Lerner bid as a "catalyst for change".

He added: "At Villa Park we now have an icon off the pitch, we just need one on it."

Ansell said Ellis had secured a good price for Villa w hich would please shareholders.

He also said Lerner would almost certainly inject more cash into the squad as he wanted to capitalise on his investment.

He said: "While there is nothing in the statement to the Stock Exchange that says there is going to be more transfer money, it would be foolish of Lerner to pay this price for Villa and not spend money on players.

"He will be looking at making money from the television revenue that comes with being in the Premiership. Because of this he would not want to be relegated.

Ansell said that Ellis has "bowed to the inevitable" by relinquishing the reigns of power at Villa Park after 24 years.

He added: "They have kept him on as a life chairman, but Ellis has depressed the club in recent years so has had to relinquish power.

"I think he has stayed too long."