It’s confirmed – the 49ers intend to complete their takeover of Leeds United
Monday, 6th Dec 2021 22:15 by Tim Whelan
BBC Radio Leeds have reported today that the York family, who own NFL franchise San Francisco 49ers, have an option to complete a 100% buyout of Leeds United and the Elland Road stadium by January 2024.
The group dipped their toe in the water with an initial purchased 10% of the club in 2018, before upping their investment to 37% in January 2021, with a further increased to 44% in November. The final deal could value the club in excess of £500m, which shows how much the return to the Premier League has been worth to the club since Radrizzani completed his takeover of the club in May 2017.
But the deal would depend on various factors, including future spending and most importantly the club's league status. So it’s vitally important that we manage to retain our Premier League status both this season and next, so we don’t miss out on a potentially huge amount of investment that could take us to the next level, and take us back to competing at the right end of the table.
For now Andrea Radrizzani remains the majority shareholder and his company Aser has the option to void the deal, and The Athletic have reported that it could be voided between the two parties if Radrizzani and his company purchase another club between now and January 2024. But even if the option wasn’t activated they could still keep working together as at present, with the 49ers retaining their minority ownership.
There might be a bit of disquiet at this news, after the behaviour of the American owners of Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal, all of whom backed the infamous attempt to set up a European Super League. But back in May Leeds vice-chairman Paraag Marathe, president of 49ers Enterprises, told BBC Sport in May that fans should "trust their intentions"
He said the 49ers' plans were "pure" and promised to make Leeds "one of the biggest clubs in the world". He added they plan to keep Elland Road, but modernise and increase the capacity of the stadium to over 50,000, with the addition of new tiers to the Don Revie and John Charles stands. Which is handy when the costs of stadium development don’t count towards the Premier League’s Financial Play calculations, but the subsequent increase in revenues will do.
The 49ers will have been forming their ideas of how to best take the club forward since they first got involved in 2018, and they have experience of building The Levi’s Stadium in SanFransisco in 2014 and it cost over $1billion. And Phil Hay has told BBC West Yorkshire Sport that Leeds have are aiming to have secured planning permission sorted and started building work before the 2024 deadline.
“It feels as though it is going to fall into that timeframe. It’s felt as if the development was planned regardless, but the 49ers and the group behind 49ers investment have been very involved in that and very interested in that development. This agreement with the 49ers includes absolutely everything.”
Radrizzani is hoping to still play a role at the club after the sale, but the two parties haven’t yet finalised the details of what capacity he will be working in. But he is confident that this deal will leave the club’s long-term future in very good hands. So it look like very good times lie ahead if only we can manage to stay in the Premier League!
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