Leeds United aims to become '˜catalyst' for fast growing tech businesses
LEEDS United aims to become a 'catalyst and enabler' for fast growing technology businesses that will bring long-term jobs and investment to Leeds, according to the club's managing director.
Angus Kinnear, who previously held senior roles at West Ham and Arsenal, said the club was working with Leeds City Council to turn the area around Elland Road into a thriving community asset which had a focus on youth and sport.
Mr Kinnear, who was appointed by Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani earlier this year, said the club’s first priorities had been to put the infrastructure and personnel in place to ensure Leeds United can be successful on the pitch “and simultaneously re-engage with our massive fan base, many of whom had become disillusioned”.
He added: “Having created a strong foundation, we are now working hard to embrace the Leeds and Yorkshire business community and working in partnership with the council to explore the potential that Elland Road possesses.”
Mr Kinnear believes that the club has joined the city on the same upward trajectory.
He added: “We know there are many fast growing Yorkshire businesses who could benefit from the awareness and scale that a partnership with Leeds United can deliver.
“We are building the club on the values and principles of pride, ambition and innovation, that we think these businesses will share.
“Whether a brand’s objectives are hyper-local marketing, or creating a product case study for exposure on an international scale, Leeds United can be a key partner.
“The trajectory of the club means that the journey over the next few years is going to be exciting and one that businesses will want to align with.”
Mr Kinnear said that Mr Radrizzani has a track record of entrepreneurialism and innovation in the digital media and sports space.
Mr Kinnear said: “Our vision includes Leeds United being a catalyst and enabler for fast growth tech businesses to flourish in the city, using the Leeds United brand and facilities as a platform.”
He acknowledged that securing the deal to buy back Leeds United’s iconic Elland Road ground had been emotionally important to all the club’s supporters.
Mr Kinnear added: “However, it was also a sign of long term commitment from the ownership. Simultaneously it has allowed us to invest in the ground as our asset, and we are already using this to improve the fan experience on many levels.”
Mr Kinnear joined the club in June, after spending the previous three years as managing director at West Ham United, where he presided over the club’s move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium.
During his time at West Ham, he grew the season ticket base to more than 50,000 and doubled commercial revenue.
Before his spell at West Ham, Mr Kinnear spent a decade at Arsenal as the club’s director of marketing, sales and partnerships. During his time with Arsenal, he led the club’s sales and marketing strategy for the Emirates Stadium and the surrounding property regeneration before focusing on growing Arsenal’s brand and commercial interests internationally.
Mr Kinnear said: “I have seen at Arsenal and West Ham how physical redevelopment can be a catalyst for the rapid growth of a club and also for the regeneration of the local community.
“We are working in partnership with the council to explore how Elland Road, over the long term, could become a thriving asset to the community seven days a week and not just on match days, transforming this part of the city, with a focus on youth and sport at its heart.
With regards to the potential future size of the stadium, he said: “It is evident from the phenomenal support that we are experiencing in the Championship, with the majority of matches looking to sell out this year, that if we secured a sustained period of Premier League football then demand would warrant an increase in capacity.
“Any redevelopment plans will be future proofed for this eventuality.”
Earlier this month, Mr Kinnear praised the “remarkable” loyalty of the club’s fanbase after season-ticket sales passed 20,000 - a rise of 40 per cent on last term. United’s yearly ticket sales have smashed past last season’s figure of 14,000 and established a new club record in the second tier.