ANDREA RADRIZZANI revealed that the re-purchase of Elland Road and an extension of Garry Monk’s contract as head coach were high on his agenda as he settled into his role as Leeds United co-owner.
Speaking for the first time since buying a 50 per cent stake in Leeds, Radrizzani said he planned to “study carefully” the option to reclaim Elland Road from its private landlord and expected discussions to be held about Monk’s future in the midst of a hugely impressive Championship season.
Radrizzani said both he and fellow owner Massimo Cellino wanted Monk, who holds a 12-month rolling contract, to remain in his post beyond the end of this term, driven to back him by United’s surge into the play-off places.
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Monk and Radrizzani have met three times since the 42-year-old Italian flew into England last week and the former Swansea City boss earned immediate plaudits after a dominant 1-0 win over Derby County on Friday night, a result which gave Leeds an eight-point cushion over the teams chasing the play-off positions.
“The intention of both parties and Garry is to continue (with Monk as head coach),” Radrizzani told the YEP. “We will sit down at a certain point and discuss the details.
“I’m impressed by the manager and the players. The crowd on Friday night was fantastic. On the sport side I’ve got really important feedback so far.”
Radrizzani’s initial work at Elland Road is likely to focus on the club’s infrastructure and he described analysis of the option to repurchase United’s stadium as “my first priority”.
Leeds have leased Elland Road since 2004, paying a punitive seven-figure sum in rent annually, and the cost of exercising the buy-back clause currently stands at around £17m.
Cellino promised to bring the venue back under Leeds’ control within seven months of his takeover in April 2014 but was never able to fund the deal.
“My first priority will be to study carefully the situation with the Elland Road contract, the option to buy it back, to look at what it also brings in terms of financial cost for the club and to study the alternatives,” Radrizzani said. “This for sure will be one of my priorities. It’s very important for the club.”
Radrizzani and Cellino appeared alongside each other at a press conference on Saturday morning, outlining their plans as joint owners of the club.
Cellino’s two-and-a-half year spell in sole control of Leeds was badly affected by controversy and problems, leading to protests from supporters against him, and he is currently facing an 18-month ban from the Football Association, due to begin on February 1.
Leeds have enjoyed a sudden period of stability this season, borne out by their high league position, but Cellino said: “It was the right time to take someone on board, someone who comes from my country. If we have to fight we fight better in Italian!
“This is the best thing I could do for the club because the numbers in the Championship are a little bit scary. It takes a lot of money to fix this club. With two owners maybe it’s easier to do it than by myself.
“Andrea has good experience in marketing, televised business and he’s got a good background. He’s 20 years (younger) than me. That’s important because I’m getting a little bit old. For us he gives a longer future than you have with me.”
Radrizzani, who could mount a full buy-out of Cellino when this season ends, expects the 50-50 split of authority with Cellino to cause no problems and he said Cellino had kept him in the loop about the club’s operations since discussions about investment began midway through last year.
Cellino turned down approaches from rival parties interested in securing 100 per cent control of Leeds to push through his deal with Radrizzani.
“So far we never had any issues to decide,” Radrizzani said. “Since May, even though I wasn’t a shareholder of the club, he always involved me in any important decisions about the building of the team. He was really fair to me in this period. Until now we never had a problem.
“From the beginning it was clear to me that Massimo didn’t want to sell the club entirely. He has strong passion for Leeds and he’s a fighter. He wants to do something good for the club before he gives up. He would never give up the club.
“We found a way to start together and hopefully to continue together. For me it’s a perfect solution because I have time to learn about the club and football gradually, not in a rush. I start now and I have time to learn and be ready for next season.”
Yorkshire Evening Post
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