How Leeds United's relationship with NFL giants the San Francisco 49ers is panning out

The San Francisco 49ers are proving to be exactly the type of investors that Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani wanted to bring to Elland Road.

By Graham Smyth
Monday, 9th September 2019, 6:39 am
The Levi's Stadium, home of the 49ers, whose investment entity has a 10 per cent stake in Leeds United (Pic: Getty)
The Levi's Stadium, home of the 49ers, whose investment entity has a 10 per cent stake in Leeds United (Pic: Getty)

In May 2018 it was announced that 49ers Enterprises, the investment entity behind the American football outfit, was to get involved with the Whites.

Paraag Marathe, president of 49ers Enterprises, joined the board of directors at Leeds and they reportedly bought 10 per cent of the club from Radrizzani.

From the outset, the two sporting organisations planned to share their respective expertise and strategies when it comes to getting results in business and on the field of play.

Leeds United's owner Andrea Radrizzani, centre (Pic: Getty)

Marathe was quoted in the summer of 2018 as saying: "This is [Andrea's] club, we're here to support him and help him. Whether it is as a resource or a guide or to help in certain areas."

Radrizzani himself said: "The 49ers are an innovative, successful organisation and we are delighted to have access to such a rich source of business and sporting expertise.

"This exciting partnership builds on the foundations we have laid down at the club in the last 12 months and we can assure supporters that the funds invested will go towards improving results on the pitch."

He also described his new partners as 'one of the biggest global sports entities' and that is backed up by Forbes' sporting rich list.

Earlier this year they placed the 49ers at 16 in their top 50 most valuable sports teams, with a value of $3.05b and an operating income of $106m.

In September Forbes updated their valuation of the American football giants to $3.5b.

Sixteen months into the relationship with the minority investors, Leeds United managing director Angus Kinnear says it is panning out as Radrizzani intended.

The two parties have regular meetings, both in England and Stateside, and Leeds are reaping the benefits.

"We have a great relationship with the 49ers, they visit regularly and we spend time in San Francisco with them as well," Kinnear told the YEP.

"They're incredibly interested and supportive of our long term objectives.

"They advise us from a business perspective and from a sporting perspective, there's a lot of knowledge sharing at that level.

"That's exactly the type of partner Andrea was looking for that would be prepared to commit financially but would also bring expertise and guidance to the club at board level."

Radrizzani remains open to the prospect of welcoming additional partners to the boardroom but according to Kinnear the Italian media mogul still intends to keep control of the club for the foreseeable future.

"Andrea remains committed for the long term," he said.

"We've always had a five year plan, we're two years into it, we talk about the remaining three years.