Randolph David Lerner
February 21, 1962
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
Columbia Law School
Clare College, Cambridge
|Occupation||Owner of MBNA Corporation|
|Net worth||US$1.1 billion (February 2020)|
Randolph David "Randy" Lerner (born February 21, 1962) is an American billionaire investor and former sports-team owner. He became the majority owner of the American football team, the Cleveland Browns, of the National Football League, upon the death of his father Alfred "Al" Lerner in October 2002. In August 2012, he sold the team. Lerner became the owner and chairman of English club Aston Villa F.C. of the Premier League in 2006, subsequently Lerner sold the club at a loss in 2016 following their relegation. His personal fortune has been estimated at over US$ 1.1 billion.
Early life and education
Lerner was born to a Jewish family and 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. He has worked as a lawyer in New York City.
Lerner began working as an investment analyst at automobile insurers Progressive Corporation. 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, Alfred "Al" Lerner, had been appointed chairman of MBNA Corporation after investing US$ 800 million in the initial public offering (IPO) of the company. In 1993, Randy Lerner became a director at MBNA. Upon the death of his father on October 23, 2002, he became MBNA's chairman. On January 1, 2006, Bank of America acquired MBNA Corporation for US$ 35 billion.
Sports team ownership
When his father, Al Lerner, died in October 2002 – four years to the day after he was awarded the new Browns franchise - the ownership of the team passed on to Lerner. Lerner served as a member of the National Football League's Business Ventures Committee. In 2012, Lerner sold the team to businessman Jimmy Haslam.
Aston Villa F.C.
During his time at Cambridge, Lerner followed English football, 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.
In July 2006, it was reported that Lerner intended to purchase Premier League club Aston Villa, following a statement from Cleveland Browns management indicating that 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 club chairman Doug Ellis broke down, but the following day, reports emerged that Lerner was still considering a formal £64m bid for the club.
In August 2006, it was confirmed Lerner had reached a £62.6m agreement with Aston Villa to take over 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. Eleven days after the announcement, the LSE confirmed that Lerner had secured 59.69% of Villa shares, making him the majority shareholder. Lerner appointed himself Chairman of the Board of the club.
By the time that the deadline passed in September 2006, Lerner had secured the acceptance of 89.69% of the shareholders. 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, and were replaced by Randy Lerner as chairman with General Charles C. Krulak, Bob Kain and Michael Martin serving as non-executive directors. At the close of the deal in 2006, Lerner became only the second American owner of a Premiership club.
In June 2011, Lerner appointed manager Alex McLeish, who was previously working from local rivals Birmingham City. McLeish's contract was terminated at the end of the 2011–12 season after Villa finished in 16th place, just above the relegation zone. On 2 July 2012, Aston Villa confirmed the appointment of former Norwich City manager Paul Lambert.
Lambert was sacked on 11 February 2015 and replaced by Tim Sherwood, who saved Villa from relegation in the 2014/15 season and took them to the 2015 FA Cup Final. Sherwood was sacked on 15 October 2015, after six consecutive league losses, with Kevin MacDonald taking over as interim manager. On 2 November 2015, Frenchman Rémi Garde agreed a three-and-a-half year deal to become the manager and was sacked after 147 days.
In April 2016, two members of Villa's board of directors, former Football Association chairman David Bernstein and Lord King submitted their resignations to Villa Chairman Steve Hollis. Their resignation was due to them being "increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress they were able to make" at the club. There had also occurred, reportedly, a "hostile interaction" between them and owner Randy Lerner.
In May 2016, Lerner sold Aston Villa to Chinese businessman Tony Xia and his Recon Group following Villa's relegation to the Football League Championship. Many Aston Villa supporters, legends and former players put the blame solely on Lerner for being inactive and failing to invest significantly since the departure of manager Martin O'Neill in 2010 and also selling their best players.
Lerner has supported the UK's National Portrait Gallery since 2002. In January 2008, it was announced that Lerner had donated £5m to the gallery, the largest single donation it has ever received. In recognition, the ground floor galleries were named "The Lerner Galleries".
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, but the club continued to promote Acorns on all children's kits as the club's official charity partner.
Lerner has a house in Amagansett, New York where he owns the Community Square shopping complex. The Wall Street Journal reported that, between 2007 and 2011, Cleveland Browns Transportation was the most frequent flyer in and out of East Hampton Airport. On July 31, 2019, a limited liability company whose principal is Randy Lerner purchased property near Stony Hill Road in Amagansett. The property is protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement granted to the Peconic Land Trust who filed suit against Lerner and the limited liability company after 75 to 125 trees were cut down.
- "#1694 Randolph Lerner : Net Worth As of 28 February 2020", Forbes
- Matt DeFaveri (Aug 2, 2012). "Browns' Jewish ownership going, going, gone".
- "Cleveland Browns' sale to Jimmy Haslam complete" by Gregg Rosenthal, NFL website, 2 August 2012
- "Browns’ Jewish ownership going, going, gone" by Matt DeFaveri, Cleveland Jewish News, 2 August 2012
- "Lerner closer to control of Villa". Article on BBC Sport. September 5, 2006. Retrieved September 5, 2006.
- "Alex McLeish sacked as Aston Villa manager". BBC Sport. BBC. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "Aston Villa appoint Paul Lambert as new manager". BBC Sport. BBC. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Aston Villa announce £53.9m loss for 2010–11 financial year". BBC Sport. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- "Aston Villa: Owner Randy Lerner puts club up for sale". BBC Sport. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
- "Aston Villa: Paul Lambert sacked as manager". BBC Sport. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- "Tim Sherwood appointed new Aston Villa boss". BBC Sport. 14 February 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
- "Sherwood relief as Villa stay up despite Saints mauling". Reuters. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
- "Tim Sherwood: Aston Villa are FA Cup final underdogs". BBC Sport. 19 April 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
- Percy, John (25 October 2015). "Tim Sherwood sacked as Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner runs out of patience with beleagured [sic] manager". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- "Remi Garde: Aston Villa confirm ex-Lyon boss as manager". BBC Sport. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- "Remi Garde: Aston Villa manager leaves after 147 days in charge", BBC NEWS, 29 March 2016
- "David Bernstein and Lord King resign from Aston Villa board", BBC Sport, 18 April 2016
- "Aston Villa: David Bernstein and Lord King left after Randy Lerner row", BBC Sport, 20 April 2016
- "Football Boss gives gallery £5m". BBC News. January 23, 2008. Retrieved January 23, 2008.
- "Aston Villa juniors keep the flag flying for Acorns". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
- "Clare College - Memorial Court". Retrieved 17 March 2020.
- Ian Ratner (15 December 2010). "Curbed Hamptons". Hamptons.com. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- Margolis, Matthew (27 June 2011). "Report: Cleveland Browns Owner A Frequent Flier". East Hampton, NY Patch. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- Bufalino, Jamie (15 August 2019). "Violation of Trust on Amagansett Land". East Hampton Star. Retrieved 2019-08-24.