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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 24, 2006

Lerner poised to take over Aston Villa

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner is set to take over Aston Villa after a rival group failed Thursday to match his bid to buy the Premier League soccer team.

A group led by Michael Neville and Nicolas Padfield could not better the $118.8 million bid Lerner made Aug. 14 to buy Villa, one of the oldest teams in English soccer.

"I have come to the conclusion that, together with the brilliant Martin O'Neill as manager, Randy Lerner and his team have the right credentials, the necessary finances and the pooled resources to restore the club to where all of us supporters want to see it," Neville said.

Lerner would be the second American owner of a Premier League team, and the fourth foreign owner. Last year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer took over at Manchester United, one of the most popular teams in the world.

Villa, established in 1874, is one of four English teams that have won the European Cup -- Europe's top competition. The team has slumped recently, however, and hasn't won the English league title since 1981.

Lerner is to replace chairman Doug Ellis, who has run the team for more than 30 years and owns 39 percent of the stock.