Report: Browns Owner Randy Lerner to Sell Majority Ownership to Tennessee Businesman

Report: Browns Owner Randy Lerner to Sell Majority Ownership to Tennessee Businesman

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According to numerous reports, Randy Lerner Owner of the Cleveland Browns is in current negotiations to sell the team to Tennessee businessman Jim who goes by James Haslm III, CEO of Pilot Travel Centers.

Over the years Randy was adamant in his sentiment on not selling the team always reaffirming fans and media that he was committed to fulfilling his father’s goal of bringing a championship to the city of Cleveland.

Randy who inherited the team towards the end of the 2002 season after his father Al Lerner on October 23rd told the Cleveland Plain Dealer he would only sell the team if he felt he wasn’t getting the job done.

Lerner, who has been in negotiations with Haslam for some time, has made it priority number one that whoever was considered to be the next owner agrees that the Cleveland Browns are to remain in Cleveland. Along with a gentlemen’s agreement, the city of Cleveland entered into a 30 year lease agreement when they came back in 1999.

While the lease would give one peace of mind that the team will be here until a minimum of 2029, the city also had a similar lease agreement with the team in 1995 that didn’t prevent them from migrating to Baltimore.

Upon rumors early Friday morning Randy Lerner released this statement.

“In connection with current rumors and press inquiries, I can report that I’ve been approached by Mr. Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in making an investment in the Cleveland Browns.  We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private. Given that any transaction would require League approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary.”

By most accounts, a deal of this magnitude wouldn’t have any comment made surrounding it unless the parties felt it was close to being done. The deal still requires Haslam to sell his minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers and a vote of approval by the NFL.

Browns Presiden Mike Holmgren when asked about the pending negotiations and how that would affect his status with the Browns he reiterated the fact that he has a contract and planned to honor it til the end

“To me, a contract’s a contract. I’ve tried to be honest with you about that. But we’ll deal with those things as we go down the road. For right now, I’m the president of the team and that’s how I’m operating.”

On when he found out about Randy’s plan to sell the team, he told media was informed during the summer while in California.

“[In] California this summer and Randy contacted me and gave me preliminary reports. Since that point, we’ve been in constant contact, he’s kept me abreast of every single thing that’s been going on. He’s been more than fair that way. Clearly there had to be some confidentiality involved in this thing. But I appreciate that from him, to be involved in this.”

Holmgren on how the potential sale and the distraction it could cause the players;

“They have a hugely important job to do, we’re in the business of winning football games and we have a good young team that I think is on the verge of becoming what you all wanted and what we all wanted.”

Information used courtesy of Cleveland.com and MSNBC

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