Team investment likely as the 49ers increase their stake in Leeds United
Monday, 25th Jan 2021 19:15 by Tim Whelan
The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers have announced that they have increased their ownership in Leeds United to 37%, and it will mean further signings on the playing side. At the same time, Andrea has assured us of his continued commitment, even though today’s deal has diluted his stake in the club.
The 49ers dipped their toe in the water with an initial purchase 10% ownership of Leeds in 2018, but our promotion to the Premier League has encouraged them to significantly increase their investment. Andrea Radrizzani remains the majority shareholder, but 49ers executive Paraag Marathe has now been appointed as the club’s vice-chairman.
The 49ers are believed to have paid £50m for the 22% of the club they bought today, which values Leeds United at over £227m, compared to the £45m Radz paid for the whole club in May 2017. And Andrea predicted that the club’s valuation would continue to grow and will exceed £500m in the next three years.
In an interview with the New York times he said “If we are able to stay in the Premier League, after two or three years I think this club could step up to be in the group of three or four clubs next to the big ones. Our model, I think, is Leicester City. We have shared this a lot internally. If there’s a club I admire for what has been done in terms of football management, it’s Leicester.”
In the same article Paraag Marathe said that the 49ers’ plan is to bring the team’s N.F.L. experience to bear on Leeds’s operations on and off the field. In the brief close season Leeds spent the sixth-highest amount of any Premier League club, and Marathe promied that spending will continue, supported by the investment from the 49ers.
And Marathe hasn’t been put off by the losses the club has suffered during the pandemic, which has cost us about £1m in lost revenue for every home game we’ve had to play behind closed doors. “Was it a blip on the radar or is it a blip on the radar? Certainly. Do I think sport is going to come roaring back in possibly a bigger way than pre-Covid? Absolutely. Otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this.”
After completed this sale, Radrizzani is now considering adding to his own portfolio, perhaps by buying other European soccer teams. The idea, he said, would be to find opportunities that would allow Leeds to develop players at smaller clubs, or to invest in larger ones that would allow him to develop their sporting and commercial models in concert with those at Leeds United.
But in a joint interview with Marathe on LUTV today, Radz assured us that his commitment and love for Leeds United is the same as ever. “When I invested the first time in 2017, I could never have expected to feel such great love and passion from the city and the fans. This gives me a lot of responsibility and motivation to continue my journey and to achieve bigger results.”
Marathe said that he can feel the passion of the fans every time he comes to Leeds, and promised to give us the benefit of his experience in San Fransisco as we develop. "I almost feel like Leeds United is today is maybe where the 49ers were a decade ago or 15 years ago when we had gone through some adversity at the 49ers.
"We just really went through re-envisioning the whole club and how we structured the organisation from the football side, on and off the pitch from the 49ers perspective. We built the new stadium, we increased our revenues, we went from the bottom tier in terms of revenue and competitiveness to the top tier in that time."
So it sounds like exciting times are ahead!
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