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Have Leeds struck gold with the 49ers?
Thursday, 24th May 2018 17:48 by Tim Whelan

Leeds United have sold a per cent stake in the club to the San Francisco 49ers' investment group, the owners of the NFL franchise named in honour of the 1849 California gold rush.

The deal has brought an investment of £10 million into the club, and we’re told that every penny of this amount will be made available for the strengthening of the playing squad. And the announcement on the official website has claimed that Leeds will also benefit from the know-how of the Americans.

Andrea Radrizzani said "This strategic partnership enables Leeds United to align with and gain invaluable expertise from the owners of one of the biggest global sports entities. "The 49ers are an innovative, successful organisation and we are delighted to have access to such a rich source of business and sporting expertise.”

As part of the deal the president of 49ers Enterprises, Paraag Marathe, will be joining the club’s board. He told the official site “We thought there are a lot of things we could do to help each other, and we just started to dive in and get involved. The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most prominent franchises in all professional sports, and certainly in the NFL.”

"Similar to Leeds, we have a storied history with a lot of Hall of Fame players, a lot of great players. We're actually right in the middle of building a foundation and getting the 49ers back to where they belong, at the top of the NFL." Which I think means that they’re not doing as well as at some time in the glorious past but hope to get back to the top. So they share the ‘we’re not famous any more’ syndrome.

But Marathe continued "It's right in the nascent stages right now of getting back to where Leeds United belongs. There's a lot of good learnings that we can take, that we do in the NFL, and take it over here to the UK. This isn't rocket science, you're trying to take smart ideas, apply them somewhere else and turn teams into winners."

Marathe’s duties at the 49ers have included negotiating contract extensions with key players and he has consistently kept the club in a competitive salary cap position. This should come in handy in the next few weeks when we come to persuade Tom Pearce to commit to a new deal.

And apparently he also ‘helped bring to life the vision of an unparalleled fan experience at their Levi’s Stadium, through the use of technology, sustainability and culture’. That suggests that we ought to have something exciting to look forward to in future while watching games at Elland Road, though I’m not quite sure exactly what.

The CNBC website explained the deal to it’s readers across the pond and told them ‘there are 24 teams in the second division of English soccer.’ How very refreshing to see the division now known as ‘The Championship’ referred to by the traditional name it lost in 1992. Go CNBC!

But they also said ‘NFL owners have been attracted to English soccer given the global popularity of teams as well as the potential to pocket millions of dollars in revenue from television rights to the Premier League.’ Which might not be so good for the long term, if in the future they want to reclaim their investment once we’ve got promoted.

We’ll just have to hope that if and when we do get back to the Premier League the increase in TV revenues will be so vast that we will be able to keep them satisfied with a share of the money, while having enough left to remain competitive on the field.

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Photo: Action Images

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