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Volume 25 No. 196

People and Pop Culture

Lerner sold the club in '16, after they were relegated from the EPL to the Championship, for around $107M

Former Browns Owner RANDY LERNER was "one of the first overseas investors to buy into" the EPL when he took control of Aston Villa in '06 for $118M, but as he "discovered to his great expense, English soccer remains a maddening, ill-regulated business world," according to Robinson & Clegg of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. In English soccer, "hucksters and charlatans roam free and bad teams face perhaps the most draconian punishment in sports" via relegation. Lerner, who "arrived with the best intentions, ended up leaving English soccer a decade later -- humbled, disgusted" and about $250M in the hole. Lerner: "The Premier League cost me my nervous system." In England, he "found himself looking out at a Wild West of irresponsible owners making senseless decisions, driven in part by the fear of relegation." Lerner sold the club to Chinese billionaire TONY XIA in '16, after they were relegated from the EPL to the Championship, for around $107M. But "despite the bitter ending, Mr. Lerner feels he left on more or less his own terms after deciding to withdraw and cut his losses." Lerner said, "It would be very easy to say the Premier League chewed me up and spat me out. But I like to think I put my finger down its throat, and said, ‘Now puke me up.'" Lerner's EPL experience will be further explored in Robinson and Clegg's book, “The Club: How The English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports,” to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt tomorrow (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/1).

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment promoted Senior Manager/Inside Sales LEO CARDENAS to Dir of Ticket Sales for the Devils and Prudential Center. Meanwhile, HBS&E's Elevate On Campus named Seating Solutions CFO KIM PARSONS COO, while naming Hawks Manager of Ticket Sales JOE RICKERT VP & GM for its Univ. of Kentucky property. Parsons, a 10-year college sports industry veteran, was previously a crucial member of the IMG College and IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions leaderships as VP/Business Ventures (HBS&E).

EXECS: The L.A. Sports Council named Dodgers VP/Global Partnerships & Ticket Sales DAVID SIEGEL President. Siegel replaces DAVID SIMON, who had been President since the LASC started in '88 (, 11/30)....Tennis Channel promoted Exec Dir of Programming LAWRENCE RANDALL to VP/Content Programming (Tennis Channel)....Orioles Dir of Player Development BRIAN GRAHAM "won't be back" with the team in '19 after serving as Interim GM to "bridge between" former Exec VP/Baseball Operations DAN DUQUETTE and new Exec VP & GM MIKE ELIAS (BALTIMORE SUN, 12/1).

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The neuropathologist who oversaw Ewen's first test was an expert witness for the NHL in CTE-related litigation

Late NHLer TODD EWEN was "posthumously diagnosed" earlier this year by a Boston Univ. neuropathlogist with CTE, a development that "contradicts the findings of a Toronto doctor two years ago" that stated Ewen did not have the disease. When Ewen's tests were initially negative, the NHL "pointed to his case as an example that the narrative about a connection between head trauma and long-term brain diseases was dangerously speculative" (, 11/30). The neuropathologist who oversaw the first test, LILI-NAZ HAZRATI, was an expert witness for the NHL in CTE-related litigation, a "potential conflict of interest" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/1).

POSITIVE INFLUENCE: Indiana State football player JAKE BAIN's "very public coming out last fall" was an act that "continues to shape his life." During a 13-minute speech to his entire high school last year, Bain "implored his classmates to be themselves." With that speech, Bain "became an accidental activist determined to change the national conversation about gay youths." He receives as many as "50 messages a week from as far as Australia and from teenagers in countries where it is illegal to be gay" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2).

SHARK WEEK: GREG NORMAN made a minority interest investment in Denver-based tech company Edison Interactive and will also join the company's BOD. Norman and his investing partner, DAVID CHESSLER, will provide the company with $10.7M, including $9.5M in debt financing for new initiatives. Edison Interactive specializes in developing custom brand experiences for mobile environments. They focus on innovating the digital experience in rideshares, rental vehicles, golf cars, airplanes, corporate housing and other verticals (Edison Interactive).

Estopinal died in a private jet that crashed north of the Louisville International Airport Friday morning

FAREWELL TO A FOUNDER: Orlando City SC and Louisville City FC Founder WAYNE ESTOPINAL, 63, was "among the dead" in a private jet that "crashed about 15 miles north of the Louisville International Airport Friday morning," The plane was "flying to Chicago Midway Airport when it disappeared from air traffic radar" (, 11/30). Orlando City CEO ALEX LEITAO called Estopinal a "gentleman, a friend, that deeply loved" the club. Estopinal "remained an active minority owner," as well as part of the club’s BOD (, 11/30).

NAMES: The N.Y. Times in its holiday books recommendations listed five sports titles. Those books were "THE LAST TEMPTATION OF RICK PITINO" by MICHAEL SOKOLOVE; "TIGERBELLE" by WYOMIA TYUS & ELIZABETH TERZAKIS; "TIGERLAND" by WILL HAYGOOD; "THE GAME" by GEORGE HOWE COLT; and "FOOTBALL FOR A BUCK" by JEFF PEARLMAN (, 11/29)....SERENA WILLIAMS visited the Yetunde Price Resource Center in Compton Friday, where she “spoke to a rapt audience of about 20 African American women” (, 11/30)....NFL Panthers Owner DAVID TEPPER was in attendance for the Clemson-Pitt ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium. Tepper, a Pitt Alumnus, was “fully clad in light blue Pitt colors” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/2)....Broncos LB VON MILLER and the team have committed more than $200,000 to Colorado Springs-based nonprofit Shield616. The donation “will provide more than 125 protective kits for first responders” to mass shootings (, 11/30)....Thunder G TERRANCE FERGUSON on Saturday “helped a family with eight children” on a grocery shopping trip, the “second of four such grocery shopping sprees the Thunder have scheduled for this season” as part of their Holiday Assist program. The team “pairs up one family and one player” (, 12/1).

As 2018 comes to a close, Sports Business Journal looks back on the people, stories, deals and events that shaped the year in sports business and the impact they’ll for years to come. From memorable quotes to indelible images, from naming-rights deals to new venues that opened, we will help readers relive the moments that made 2018 a year to remember.

Publishing Date: December 24

Ad Close: December 10

Materials Due: December 12

For more information, contact Julie Tuttle, National Director of Advertising at (212) 500-0711 or