Aston Villa Owner Randy Lerner has agreed a deal to sell the National Football League (NFL) franchise for Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam in a deal reported to be worth in excess of US$1 billion.
ESPN said that Haslam is set to take over controlling interest of the Browns for an initial payment of about $700 million, with the second payment of $300 million completing the deal.
“This is a very exciting time for my family and me,” Haslam said.
“To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true. We are committed to keeping the team in Cleveland and seeing it get back to the elite of the NFL - something all Browns fans want and deserve. Our family is committed to becoming an integral part of the Cleveland community. We also want to thank Randy Lerner for his friendship, counsel and support during this process.”
Lerner, who is also owns Aston Villa, has controlled the Browns since 2002.
He added: “As I was at first overwhelmed, I asked for a few days to consider the proposal during which time I consulted with my mother and sister. Over this short period we agreed that the proposal was strong, the buyers made sense and the time was right for us to move on.”
The Browns have been owned by the Lerner family since 1999, when the franchise was reborn after the original club moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens in 1996.