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Finance

Leeds owner ‘offered’ Elland Road as collateral in Sampdoria takeover bid

Elland Road in Leeds, England

Featured image credit: Stephen Craven/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

Elland Road in Leeds, England

Featured image credit: Stephen Craven/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani proposed to use the football club’s Elland Road stadium as security for a bank loan as part of his takeover bid for Italian team Sampdoria, it has emerged.

The Athletic has reported that under a heads of terms agreement co-signed by Radrizzani, Elland Road would have acted as collateral as part of a deal by his Aser Ventures firm and bidding partner Gestio Capital to borrow €30m (£25.8m/$32.3m) from Italian financial services group Banca Sistema, helping to fund the takeover of crisis-hit Sampdoria.

It was announced earlier this week that Sampdoria’s shareholders had given the green light to a restructuring plan, paving the way for a takeover by Radrizzani and business partner Matteo Manfredi.

Relegated from Serie A last month, Sampdoria has been up for sale for over a year as efforts are made to repay creditors of former chairman and owner Massimo Ferrero, who has been involved in a case of alleged bankruptcy.

The deal announced earlier this week involves the injection of up to €40m to bolster the Genoa-based club’s finances. Progression to a full takeover is said to be dependent on the club’s creditors giving final approval to the restructuring plan.

While LeedsLive has reported the Elland Road proposal has not gone any further, adding that there are no new notifications on Companies House related to the ownership of the stadium, the emergence of Radrizzani’s apparent proposal has created further tension with the club’s fanbase after Leeds was relegated from the Premier League on Sunday.

Radrizzani completed a full takeover of Leeds in May 2017, adding ownership of Elland Road, the club’s home since 1919, shortly after. The stadium’s current ownership body, Elland Road Limited, was formed in December 9 2020, fully controlled by Greenfield Investments, the investment vehicle used by Radrizzani.

LeedsLive said that, as of December 2022, Greenfield’s shareholding in the company stood at 71%, with 49ers Enterprises holding 29%. A division of NFL franchise the San Francisco 49ers, 49ers Enterprises initially acquired a minority stake in Leeds in May 2018. It has been in talks to acquire full control of Leeds, with The Athletic stating that the 49ers had not been informed about the stadium being put forward as security for a potential loan.

Contacted by The Athletic, Radrizzani said: “You are not well informed as the deal has been done by Gestio Capital. What Aser Ventures does with its assets which includes several companies including Leeds United, Greenfield and Elland Road… it’s none of your business.”

He added: “You can do what you want but you are just trying to put Leeds United fans against myself. It is not nice.”