Dawg Save the Queen

Randy Lerner watched his Browns beat the Buffalo Bills Aug. 26 in preseason play, then flew across the Atlantic to find the faithful fan base of his newly purchased Aston Villa soccer club chanting his name from the stands. Though some Brits sniffed at the thought of another American swooping in and buying one of England’s famed soccer clubs, (Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer purchased Manchester United last year), even Lerner’s British rivals had to admit a billionaire owner is always a good thing. Here’s how Lerner’s two legendary football clubs stack up.

Cleveland Browns

Aston Villa
Year Founded 1946 1874
Purchase Price $530 million (1998) $188.8 million (2006)
Rival Bidders Larry Dolan was edged out by Al Lerner’s monstrous bid. He ended up buying the Cleveland Indians in 2000 for $320 million. An English group led by Michael Neville and Nicolas Padfield couldn’t top Lerner’s bid, failing to keep one of the country’s oldest soccer teams under Brit ownership.
Spectator Shenanigans Fans rained beer bottles upon the field during a 2001 game against Jacksonville when a last-minute instant replay review sealed a Cleveland loss. During a 2003 match, a Birmingham City fan entered the field, taunted and then slapped Aston Villa’s goalkeeper in the face after he allowed an easy goal.
Championship Drought 42 years 25 years
Winning Outlook Uncertainties at center and a tough schedule are a difficult mix when you’re in the same division as last year’s Super Bowl champs. After his failed bid, Neville remarked Lerner has the “right credentials, the necessary finances and the pooled resources” to make Aston Villa a winner. Sound familiar?
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