The struggle of Aston Villa's American owner, Randy Lerner, to manage the club's finances has been revealed, with the club announcing a loss of £17.7m in the year to 31 May 2012. That reduced by £36m the huge loss made in 2010-11, but Villa achieved it by cutting the wage bill and selling players.

Villa's income fell in 2011-12 by £11.6m, 12.6%, to £80m, and average home crowds dropped by 3,500 to 33,873 as Villa slumped to 16th place in the Premier League under the unpopular management of Alex McLeish.

In the summer of 2011, Villa sold players including Ashley Young to Manchester United for £17m and Stewart Downing to Liverpool for £20, making a profit on player trading of £27m. Overall staff costs, including players' wages, were reduced by £13.8m to £70m.

Villa said Lerner had waived interest on loans to the club totalling £107m, costing him £20m.

Robin Russell, Villa's chief financial officer, said the figures demonstrated the club's efforts to become financially sustainable: "Having appointed Paul Lambert as manager in June 2012, he is building a youthful, progressive first-team squad and we continue to offer our season ticket holders and supporters some of the cheapest ticket prices in the Premier League," Russell said.