Leeds United investment: Everything you need to know about the San Francisco 49ers
Here's everything you need to know about the San Francisco 49ers following their acquisition of a minority stake in Leeds United.
Who are the San Francisco 49ers?
The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team from the San Francisco Bay Area. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) and are a member of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the West division.
They play their home games at Levi Stadium which opened in 2014 and is located 45 miles south of San Francisco in the Silicon Valley. The headquarters for the franchise is based in Santa Clara and has been since 1988.
A quick look at the 49ers history...
The San Francisco 49ers were founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference before the club joined the NFL in 1949 as the league merged. The 49ers were one of the first professional sports teams based in the city and the team take their name from the 1849 Gold Rush in California.
Super Bowls - The 49ers have won five Super Bowls with the first coming in 1981 and the last in 1995. Hall of fame quarterback Joe Montana led San Francisco to their first two Super Bowl victories in 1981 and 1984.
They then won back to back titles fours years later in 1988 and 1989 following the arrival of the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game, Jerry Rice. Montana again led the charge having been told by doctors in 1987 that he should retire after a serious back injury.
Their fifth and final Super Bowl victory came in the 1994 season as Steve Young led the 49ers to victory over the San Diego Chargers in Miami 49-26.
Recent years - The 49ers have fallen on hard times in recent years since reaching the 2012 Super Bowl, which they lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31.
Last season though San Francisco appointed John Lynch, a former a player and the youngest general manager in the league, alongside up and coming head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers also acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who they believe will be the future of their franchise with fans optimistic about the new set up in Santa Clara.
They finished the season with a 6-10 (six wins, ten losses) record but won their last five games in a row which gives them hope of a new dawn of success when the 2018 campaign kicks off in September.
In 2014 the San Francisco 49ers unveiled their brand new state of the art open air 68,500 stadium to replace the outgoing Candlestick Park where they had hosted home games since 1971.
The stadium is expandable to 75,000 for big events such as World Cup games or Super Bowls, which they hosted in 2016, and Leeds United's newest board member Paraag Marathe played a key role in the development of the plans.
Levi Stadium is known for being one of the most technologically advanced venues in the world to watch sport and cost $1.2 billion to build. The 49ers installed WIFI and 4G antennas from their sponsored carriers throughout the stadium which visitors can connect too.
They also produced their very own app which has revolutionised the way sport is watched live in San Francisco. The app can guide people to the closest car park to their entrance gate and, once inside, can also guide them to their seats. Fans can also watch live instant replays during games via the app from the broadcasted coverage and also access live in-game stats.
Fans can also order food and drink to be delivered to any seat in the venue. An express option is also available in which fans can collect their order in person having already purchased their snacks and beverages.
Perhaps though the real party trick of the app is the ability to navigate you to the closest toilet to your seat with the shortest queue. Users of the app can also report issues in the stadium from spillages to crimes.
The stadium is also one of the most environmentally friendly in the USA with the 49ers having installed solar panels throughout and received a gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design) certificate for it's use of recyclable materials.
Who are they owned by?
Jed York is an American sports executive who is the current CEO of the San Francisco 49ers. York is the nephew of former owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr with the team having a net worth of $1.1 billion.
Key dates in the NFL season
The NFL season begins on September 6 with the regular season running until December 30. The playoffs begin on January 5 with the Super Bowl taking place on February 3 in Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
What about NFL in the UK?
The NFL's international series, which sees regular season games hosted outside of the USA, began in the UK in 2007 and has grown rapidly since the first game at Wembley Stadium between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins.
Every fixture has been a sell out in London with fans travelling from far and wide to take in the action. In 2016 games were also played at Twickenham Stadium, the home of English Rugby Union, and the San Francisco 49ers have visited twice winning on both occasions they have played on British soil.
The future - The NFL has committed its long-term future to the UK with the idea of a franchise in London being coined. Although their is no movement for now Tottenham Hostpur will host a single NFL game in their brand new stadium as part of the continuing expansion.