Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani says he has rejected approaches to sell his majority stake at Elland Road - and claims the value of the club has more than doubled since his buy-out 17 months ago.
Speaking at Leaders Week, an event in London featuring executives from the world of sport, Radrizzani said he had been “approached by many parties in the last few months” over a possible sale of shares in Leeds.
The Italian business mogul has controlled the Championship club since May 2017 when he bought a 100 per cent stake from former owner Massimo Cellino in a deal worth £45m.
Leeds struggled in his first season and finished 13th in the table, prompting Radrizzani to sell around 12 per cent of his shares to the investment arm of the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year.
Radrizzani talked of implementing a five-year plan when he first invested in the club, saying he would sell up if Leeds remained in the Championship beyond that timeframe, but in an interview with the YEP in August he highlight the pressure of managing annual losses at Elland Road.
The Italian made a play for promotion this season by committing a wage of more than £2m to the appointment of head coach Marcelo Bielsa and United are third in the table after 12 matches following a strong start under the Argentinian.
Asked about his takeover at Leaders Week, Radrizzani said: “When I acquired the club I was doing it by three different elements. First of all passion for football. It’s very important. If you invest in a football club you need to love the sport.
“Second was the challenge. I’ve always been attracted in my life by something difficult and this is quite difficult because it’s competing for the dream to be in the Premier League, the best football championship in the world.
“The third was the appreciation of the asset. I’ve been approached by many parties in the last few months. I see already the value is probably more than double than what I invested but the upside potentially is really high because in my opinion this is one of the top, probably, eight brands in UK.”
Radrizzani made no secret of the fact that his sales of shares to 49ers Enterprises in May had been negotiated to raise funds for the summer transfer window. Promising midfielder Ronaldo Vieira was later sold for £7.7m to help balance United’s books.
“The club injected a lot of money and it’s never enough,” Radrizzani told the YEP two months ago. “Between my personal money, transfer sales and the 49ers, we’ve injected more than £45m into the team and it’s not enough.
“If I don’t go up after a few years then I’ll sell because it means my cycle is done and someone else should do it. It’s a loss-making league and it’s not fun to put money every year into a business that loses money.”
Asked in that same interview if he was still committed to the possibility of five years in the Championship, Radrizzani said: “Five years is long. It depends.”