EFL approves Leeds takeover by 49ers Enterprises

EFL approves Leeds takeover by 49ers Enterprises

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Leeds United will attempt to win promotion back to the Premier League after relegation in the 2022-23 season
Leeds United will attempt to win promotion back to the Premier League after relegation in the 2022-23 season

Leeds United are now owned by 49ers Enterprises after the EFL formally approved their £170m takeover of the Championship club.

The investment arm of the San Francisco 49ers purchased a 15% stake in Leeds in 2018 and increased that to 44% in 2021.

They now have full control after announcing the purchase of Andrea Radrizzani’s share in a statement.

“This transition is a necessary reset to chart a new course for the club,” said new chairman Paraag Marathe.

“This is an important moment for Leeds United and we are already hard at work. We are confident Leeds will field a competitive squad to contend for promotion next season.”

Leeds also confirmed that existing chief executive Angus Kinnear will remain in his current position while entrepreneur Rudy Cline-Thomas, founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Mastry, will join the board as co-owner and vice chairman.

“49ers Enterprises is bringing fresh leadership, management and a commitment to investment, which I’m confident will meet our ambition to compete for promotion and remain in the top flight as an established Premier League Club,” Kinnear said.

“I know Paraag, Rudy and 49ers Enterprises will keep supporters central to their plans during their custodianship and I am excited to work in realising the true potential of this great club.”

Cline-Thomas added: “With my family hailing from Leeds, it’s an honour to be able to uplift this incredible community. This is more than just an opportunity, it’s a personal mission.

“The chance to reinvigorate the cherished Leeds culture, to create a platform that attracts the world’s finest players and build a truly global brand that celebrates diversity is a prospect that thrills me.”

‘They will take Leeds to the next level’

Radrizzani bought Leeds outright for £45m in 2017 but his stake had reduced to 56% by the time he sold up and claimed that the new custodians would move the club forward.

“It has been an honour to guide Leeds United over the last six years and to spend so much time with the best fanbase in the world,” the 48-year-old said.

“49ers Enterprises have been fantastic partners for years and I’m confident they will take Leeds to the next level.”

Radrizzani had initially been popular with Leeds fans, with manager Marcelo Bielsa taking them back into the Premier League.

But the relationship soured after he sacked the Argentine and he did not attend their final game of last season, a defeat by Tottenham which sealed their relegation while fans chanted for him to leave.

After relegation was confirmed, the Leeds United Supporters Club released a statement saying Radrizzani was “no longer an appropriate person to own Leeds United”.

“His behaviour is appalling and he risks never being welcome at our club again,” it added.”The sooner he goes the better and we look forward to the 49ers Enterprises offer being accepted. The only way he can begin to salvage his reputation is through an immediate sale of the club and the stadium.”

Radrizzani’s Aser Holding Company recently bought a stake in Italian side Sampdoria.

Andrea Radrizzani
Fans chanted for Andrea Radrizzani to leave during the defeat by Tottenham which confirmed their relegation

This deal has to be good for the club – analysis

Simon Stone, BBC Sport

This news has been expected since Sampdoria confirmed Radrizzani had taken a stake in the club, which had just been relegated to Serie B.

The brutal truth is that Radrizzani – charismatic as he is – lacks the funds to really shove Leeds up to the Premier League in the way the 49ers have.

Given the parachute payments and their enormous fanbase, quite frankly it would reflect very badly if Leeds did not go straight back up.

There are structural issues to address around Elland Road, which will be expensive to modernise but it badly needs it. However, on the pitch this deal has to be good for the club.

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