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By ESPN Staff
Jul 24, 2006

Browns owner may bid for English soccer club

CLEVELAND -- Browns owner Randy Lerner is exploring investments in the United Kingdom that could include the purchase of English soccer club Aston Villa.

Bill Bonsiewicz, a Browns spokesman, would not comment on British news reports Monday saying Lerner is one of several businessmen bidding for Birmingham-based Aston Villa.

"But he is exploring business options, including in the United Kingdom where he's been involved in the business community since 1993," Bonsiewicz said. "He's always maintained other businesses outside the Browns."

Lerner, a billionaire and former chairman of credit card giant MBNA, assumed ownership of the Browns in 2002 following the death of his father, Al.

Bonsiewicz said Lerner was traveling and unavailable for comment.

If Lerner does purchase Aston Villa, he would be the second NFL owner to buy a club in England's Premier League. Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer purchased Manchester United in 2005, sparking protests by fans worried Glazer would be more devoted to making money than winning.