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Lerner on verge of selling stake in Browns

A major piece of the Cleveland Browns is about to change hands.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported on Friday that Randy Lerner, who owns a majority interest in the franchise, is close to closing on a deal with minority Steelers owner Jimmy Haslam. A condition of that pact will be that the Browns will not be moved from Cleveland.

Browns team president Mike Holmgren confirmed the move following Friday's practice.

"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," Lerner said in a statement. "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."

Amongst bitter feelings, the original Browns were relocated by owner Art Modell to Baltimore following the 1995 campaign. Football returned to northeastern Ohio in 1999 with the revival of the Browns, carrying the old club's history and records.