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Finance

EFL approves 49ers Enterprises’ takeover of Leeds

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

The English Football League (EFL) has approved the sale of Championship club Leeds United to 49ers Enterprises, a division of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.

Leeds announced last month that 49ers Enterprises, which already held a 44% stake in the team, had reached an agreement to buy the club from Aser Ventures. The deal, which includes Leeds’ Elland Road stadium, is worth a reported £170m (€198m/$223m).

Paraag Marathe, previously vice-chairman and board member at Leeds, will take over as chairman of the club, replacing Andrea Radrizzani who has sold his majority stake. Marathe will oversee all aspects of the club, including football and business operations.

Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear will remain in his current position and continue to direct the club’s day-to-day strategy. Rudy Cline-Thomas, founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Mastry, will join the board as co-owner and vice-chairman.

49ers Enterprises has been involved with Leeds since May 2018, when it acquired a stake worth a reported 10%. In November 2021, this increased to 44% and its full takeover has now been approved by the EFL.

Marathe said: “This is an important moment for Leeds United and we are already hard at work. This transition is a necessary reset to chart a new course for the club.

“We have already appointed a highly respected first team manager (Daniel Farke) with a track record of success, and we are confident Leeds will field a competitive squad to contend for promotion next season. It’s a privilege to carry this torch as I know we have a responsibility to ensure this club makes our staff, players, supporters, and the Leeds and Yorkshire communities proud.”

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.”

Leeds was relegated from the Premier League last season. Reports have suggested that the takeover deal would have been worth around £400m if the club had retained its top-flight status.

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 on December 9 2020, fully controlled by Greenfield Investments, the investment vehicle used by Radrizzani.

Last month, it emerged that Radrizzani had proposed Elland Road as security for a bank loan as part of his takeover bid for Sampdoria, which was recently relegated from Italy’s top-tier Serie A.