There will be an increased American flavor for Leeds United after the club struck a new deal with the business arm of the American football team, the San Francisco 49ers.
Rumors from last year suggested that Qatar Sports Investments, owner of Paris Saint-Germain, were potential business partners, but the 49ers seems to be white chef Andrea Radrizzani’s favorite choice.
So what does the investment deal mean for Leeds United and how will it play out in real terms? Goal take a look.
What is the deal between Leeds United and the 49ers?
The deal involves an investment in Leeds United of 49ers companies which will bring the entity’s stake in the Premier League club to 37%.
Prior to this deal, since 2018 49ers Enterprises had a 15% stake in Leeds, so the 2021 announcement sees a 22% increase – a significant jump.
As part of the deal, 49ers Enterprises chairman Paraag Marathe, who was already on the Leeds board, will become vice chairman of the Yorkshire club.
When the deal was officially announced on January 25, 2021, Radrizzani expressed happiness at the prospect of increased collaboration with the 49ers.
“We are delighted to welcome further investment into our club from 49ers Enterprises and I have no doubts that this latest partnership will help Leeds United continue to grow and become the team our supporters deserve,” said the ‘Italian in a statement.
“I’ve always been willing to bring partners on this journey with me, as long as these actions can benefit the club’s long-term strategy.
“Paraag and the team at 49ers Enterprises are uniquely positioned to work with myself, Angus Kinnear, Victor Orta and our management team to help us achieve our goals.”
What will the 49ers’ investment in Leeds United mean?
The 49ers’ investment in Leeds is worth £ 50million ($ 68.5million) according to The temperature and signals a move towards modernizing the club in a number of areas, with the hope that it can continue to grow.
Elland Road and potential new stadium
Leeds’ stadium, Elland Road, is a potential ‘brick and mortar’ element of improvement that has been identified, but any expansion (or new ground) will not happen for at least a number of years.
Radrizzani has spoken of his “dream” of “spending one of Europe’s great nights in a new stadium”, but acknowledges that such a vision will require sustained stability in the Premier League. However, Leeds fans can at least expect to see minor renovations in the years to come.
“I think we have to be in the Premier League for the next two or three seasons and then we can try to think about it,” Radrizzani told reporters. “It’s a project that requires a big investment, so we need to be able to fund it and be strong and stable enough in the Premier League.
“So it has some state before we can run it. Until then, we can arrange a renovation here and there, a partial renovation.”
Paraag Marathe and commercial growth
Overall, the 49ers’ investment will lead to increased collaboration between Leeds executives and those of the American football franchise, with Marathe in particular needing to become more involved in day-to-day operations.
Business improvements (including e-commerce) are being considered, so elements such as merchandising and sponsorship, as well as media, will enter what Marathe describes as an increase, noting that the club was operating with a more structure. suitable for the championship than the Premier League.
“We don’t have all the staff and the right structure yet,” Marathe told reporters. “Now it’s being able to increase that structure almost instantly with 49ers resources, which catapults us into having that Premier League structure that we need.”
Tapping into a global fan base outside of Yorkshire is also a priority for Marathe and the 49ers contingent.
Marathe will undoubtedly be involved in the Elland Road lawsuit, having overseen the process of building Levi’s Stadium, but it’s worth noting his previous work with the 49ers to get a sense of how his influence might be felt.
He played a big role in hiring Marcelo Bielsa as manager and the Argentine has shown himself to be an inspired choice, but recent history has shown that the 49ers have not been shy about changing coach to the pursuit of their goals.
Yesterday marked the 4th anniversary of my initial investment in @LUFC. I want to thank everyone who sent me so many amazing messages of support. I love this club and everyone who works so hard there every day. I can’t wait to make more memories together. #LUFC #AGAINST pic.twitter.com/BG0IiHbcku
– Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) January 5, 2021
Competition in Europe and “Big Six”
Radrizzani is hopeful that the 49ers’ investment will help Leeds meet the goal of closing the gap with the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League and qualifying for European competitions such as the Europa League and the Champions League.
“The journey to [the top six] is still long. As I said before, I’m giving myself five to seven years to see the Leeds United I dream of, ”the Leeds boss told reporters.
“It’s a lot of micro-achievements to achieve this project, this goal, because a club that left the championship in two or three years must enter a new cycle and gradually change its pattern.
“It’s like changing the pattern and being new again. The club that reaches the Premier League has to make that transition in two or three years.”
So to be clear, before Leeds fans get carried away by the immediate Champions League fantasies, Radrizzani is aiming for Europa League qualification by 2024.
The idea is to establish Leeds on a level playing field with Leicester City, West Ham and Everton. Then the focus will be on progressing to the Champions League.
Links with other European clubs
Lower on the agenda under the new investment is exploring and deepening links with other clubs in Europe in order to extend Leeds’ reach, both in a business and football sense.
“We are learning, we understand what is available, what opportunities will fit Leeds United better to support Leeds United’s goal,” Radrizzani said.
“Integration can happen at any level. It can take place in different countries or at different levels. The two could bring different benefits. It could be benefits for sport and football, it could be benefits. business advantages. There are advantages and disadvantages in different opportunities. “
Who owns Leeds United?
While 49ers Enterprises increased its stake in Leeds to 37%, Andrea Radrizzani remains the majority shareholder – and therefore, main owner – of the Premier League club.
An Italian businessman with an interest in sports and entertainment, Radrizzani has been the club’s main owner since 2017, when he bought the 50% stake from his former co-owner Massimo Cellini.
The ownership stakes are now divided 63:37.
Who is Paraag Marathe?
As well as being the new vice president of Leeds United, Paraag Marathe is a longtime 49ers executive, with over two decades of experience working with the NFL squad.
An alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Marathe is executive vice president of football operations for the 49ers and president of 49ers Enterprises.
He’s the main man among the 49ers when it comes to negotiating contracts and salary cap issues, but he also focuses on analytics and stats, working closely with the coaches.
Marathe’s abilities also saw him become a prominent member of the NFL’s “ Future of Football ” committee.