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Volume 25 No. 236
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Former Browns Owner Lerner Reflects On Tumultuous EPL Tenure

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

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).