ELLAND ROAD is back in the hands of Leeds United tonight after club owner Andrea Radrizzani completed a deal to repurchase the stadium from its private landlord.
In a development which Leeds described as a “top priority” for their new chairman, Radrizzani has reclaimed the deeds to Elland Road almost 13 years after the ground was sold amid a financial crisis in 2004.
Radrizzani has purchased the ground via Greenfield Investment Pte Ltd, the firm which the Italian used to secure his 100 per cent buy-out of United from Massimo Cellino.
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The 42-year-old, who made his fortune through the sale of sports media rights, has been in full control of Leeds for little over a month but has already delivered on a deal which will free the club’s accounts of an annual rent of £1.7m.
The YEP understands that United, who have been managing an increasing yearly lease since Elland Road was first sold, will be charged no rent by Radrizzani following his purchase of the ground today.
Today is an important day in our history and a proud day for me and my team.Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani
Leeds said in a statement that the cash would be channelled towards “the academy, the squad and important improvements to the stadium.”
Radrizzani said: “Today is an important day in our history and a proud day for me and my team.
“When I met with management and supporters during my first few months at the club the purchase of Elland Road was very high on their list of priorities and I’m delighted to be able to announce that we have completed that process today.”
Leeds negotiated a 25-year lease agreement on Elland Road when the ground was sold for £8m to Manchester property developer Jacob Adler by the Gerald Krasner-led board.
The deal included a buy-back clause giving Leeds the right to repurchase the ground at any time before 2029. The current cost of the buy-back stood at around £17m but Radrizzani is believed to have paid in the region of £20m to complete a rapid sale from Adler.
Ownership of Elland Road was transfer to Teak Commercial Limited, a company based in the British Virgin Islands, in 2005 but has always remained under Adler’s control.
Adler still acts as landlord of United’s Thorp Arch training ground, a complex which was also sold by the Krasner consortium in November 2004 amid mounting financial pressure at Leeds. United’s buy-back clause on Thorp Arch elapsed in 2009 while Ken Bates was chairman.
Radrizzani promised last month that he would deliver on the repurchase of Elland Road and today’s news is the first stage of a wider plan to redevelop the land around the ground.
Radrizzani has been in talks with Leeds City Council about a three-year project labelled ‘Elland Road 2020’. The construction of a new training ground in the centre of Leeds is one of the aims on his agenda.
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “It’s fantastic news that the club have confirmed the buy-back of Elland Road stadium.
“This is an extremely positive step in the right direction for everyone associated with Leeds United and especially the club’s tremendous and loyal fans.
“As we prepare for the new season to begin in August, I very much welcome the intent being shown by Andrea to move the club forward with real purpose and ambition.”