Randy Lerner

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Randy Lerner
Lerner, Randy.jpg
Born Randolph David Lerner
(1962-02-21) February 21, 1962 (age 57)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Columbia University
Columbia Law School
Occupation Owner/Chairman of Aston Villa F.C. (selling up)[1]
Net worth Increase£1.5 billion (2013)[2]
Children 4
Parent(s) Al Lerner
Nancy Wolkoff

Randolph David "Randy" Lerner (born February 21, 1962) is an American entrepreneur and sports team owner. He was the majority owner of the American football team, the Cleveland Browns, of the National Football League upon the death of his father Alfred "Al" Lerner in October 2002, until August 2012, and was the chairman of Aston Villa Football Club of the Premier League from 2006 to 2014. His personal fortune was estimated at GBP over 1.1 billion.


Early life

Lerner graduated from Columbia University in 1984, spending 1983 at Clare College in Cambridge, England. He graduated from Columbia Law School and is a member of the New York and District of Columbia Bar Associations. Prior to entering the business world, he worked as a lawyer in New York City.

Business history

Lerner's business career began at the Progressive Corporation as an investment analyst. In 1991, he started an independent investment firm with Progressive capital called Securities Advisors, Inc. (SAI), which he owned and managed until 2001. SAI initially specialized in arbitrage before shifting its focus to equity investing.

His father Al Lerner became chairman of MBNA Corporation investing $800 million of his own money in the initial public offering (IPO) of the corporation. In 1993, Randy became a director at MBNA. Upon the death of his father on October 23, 2002, Randy became company chairman. He was involved in the sale of MBNA Corporation on January 1, 2006 to Bank of America for $35 billion.

Sports team ownership

Lerner (right) observing a Cleveland Browns practice with general manager Mike Holmgren

Cleveland Browns

Control of the Browns was given to Lerner, when his father, Al Lerner, died in October 2002 – four years to the day after he was awarded the new Browns franchise. Lerner also served as a member of the National Football League's Business Ventures Committee. Lerner was generally a low-key owner during the time he controlled the Browns franchise. In 2012, Lerner sold the team to businessman Jimmy Haslam.[3][4]

Aston Villa

During his time at Cambridge Lerner followed English football (soccer), taking an interest in three teams: Arsenal, Fulham and Aston Villa. Although he had grown up in the United States, with a father who had been involved with the Cleveland Browns franchise under Art Modell, Lerner's interest in England's top flight endured long after he had returned to the States. On July 24, 2006 it was reported that Randy Lerner intended to purchase Premier League club Aston Villa following a statement from Cleveland Browns management indicating Lerner was pursuing business interests in the United Kingdom. Lerner pulled out of the bid to buy Aston Villa two days later after talks with the club chairman Doug Ellis broke down but the following day reports emerged that Lerner might still make a formal £64 million bid for the club.

On August 14, 2006 it was confirmed that Lerner had reached an agreement of £62.6 million with Aston Villa for a takeover of the club. The statement to the London Stock Exchange confirmed that 60% of the club's shares, including the 39% stake of Doug Ellis had been sold to Lerner, beating competition from consortia led by Michael Neville, Nicholas Padfield QC, and Athole Still. At this stage, the sale still awaited the approval of the shareholders of Aston Villa, although it was expected to be approved without a hitch.

On August 25, the LSE announced that Lerner had secured 59.69% of Villa shares, making him the majority shareholder. He also appointed himself Chairman of the club.

The BBC reported on September 5, 2006 that Lerner had now moved closer to taking full control of the club, after increasing his share to 85.5%.[5]

By the time that the September 18 1pm deadline had been reached Lerner had acceptance of 89.69% of the share. Due to the acceptance only being 0.31% below the conditional limit, Lerner accepted it and made the bid unconditional. On September 19, 2006 Aston Villa PLC executive Chairman Doug Ellis and his board resigned, to be replaced by Randy Lerner as Chairman and General Charles C. Krulak, Bob Kain and Michael Martin[disambiguation needed] as non-executive directors. At the close of the deal in 2006, Lerner became the second American owner of a Premiership club.

In June 2011, Lerner controversially appointed manager Alex McLeish from local rivals Birmingham City, only to fire McLeish barely a year later. He replaced McLeish with then Norwich City manager Paul Lambert. He invested about £20m into the club on March 2013 and waived off the £100m interest owed to him by Aston Villa due to the fact Villa were struggling financially. On May 12th, 2014, Lerner announced he had put the club up for sale, stating, "I owe it to Villa to move on, and look for fresh, invigorated leadership, if in my heart I feel I can no longer do the job."

At the end of the 2015 calendar year, the english club sat bottom of the Barclays Premier League, and many of the club's supporters have turned against Lerner in the past few years due to a perceived lack of interest, lack of investment and poor appointments of managers and other senior club figures, such as the club's CEO Tom Fox. With relegation posing a severe threat at one the country's most historic and successful football clubs, and huge numbers of fans and former players expressing their discontent and anger at the way the club is being run, it remains to be seen what action would be taken should Aston Villa drop into the Sky Bet Championship.


Randy Lerner has supported the National Portrait Gallery since 2002. On January 23, 2008 it was announced that he had donated £5 million to the gallery, the largest single donation that it has ever received. In recognition the ground floor galleries will be named "The Lerner Galleries".[6]

For the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 seasons, Aston Villa forwent traditional shirt sponsorship by instead wearing on their shirts the name of a local children's hospice, Acorns. For the 2010/2011 season this sponsor was replaced by corporate sponsor FxPro, however the club continued to promote Acorns on all children's kits as the club's official charity partner.[7]

Randy Lerner also provided a substantial gift to Clare College, Cambridge to fund the building of a new block of residential student accommodation, Lerner Court.


Lerner has a house in Amagansett, New York where he owns the Community Square shopping complex as well as the Meeting House Restaurant in the complex.[8] The Wall Street Journal reported that Cleveland Browns Transportation was the most frequent flyer in and out of East Hampton Airport with 390 trips logged between 2007 and 2011.[9]


  1. http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/may/12/randy-lerner-aston-villa
  2. http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/aston-villa-chairman-randy-lerner-1240157. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82afebd3/article/cleveland-browns-sale-to-jimmy-haslam-complete?module=HP11_headline_stack
  4. Cleveland Jewish News: "Browns’ Jewish ownership going, going, gone" MATT DeFAVERI August 2, 2012
  5. "Lerner closer to control of Villa". Article on BBC Sport. September 5, 2006. Retrieved September 5, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Football Boss gives gallery £5m". Article on BBC News. January 23, 2008. Retrieved January 23, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Aston Villa juniors keep the flag flying for Acorns". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 21 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Wednesday, December 15, 2010, by Ian Ratner (2010-12-15). "on the market - Curbed Hamptons". Hamptons.curbed.com. Retrieved 2011-11-28. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Margolis, Matthew (2011-06-27). "Report: Cleveland Browns Owner A Frequent Flier - East Hampton, NY Patch". Easthampton.patch.com. Retrieved 2011-11-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>