Leeds United must not lose Elland Road 'identity' in potential stadium expansion says board member

Paraag Marathe says Leeds United must not lose Elland Road's identity in any potential future stadium expansion.

Saturday, 5th June 2021, 2:16 pm
Leeds United director Paraag Marathe. Pic: Getty

The Whites are currently enjoying a summer break having cemented their Premier League status with a ninth-placed finish at the first time of asking.

Head coach Marcelo Bielsa masterminded a stunning debut campaign for the LS11 outfit following promotion to the top flight after 16 years away last summer under the Argentine's watch.

Majority owner Andrea Radrizzani has welcomed increased outside investment from NFL giants San Francisco 49ers, which Marathe has led since their initial arrival three years ago in West Yorkshire.

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Expanding and upgrading the club's home ground has been high on the agenda since United's upward trajectory from the Football League, with managing director Angus Kinnear unveiling tentative plans during the centenary celebrations in 2019.

A potential capacity of around 55,000 has been mooted which would include the redevelopment of the West and North stands at Elland Road.

Amid the glitz and glamour of the Premier League there seems to be no suggestion that the idea of a rebuild has slowed down with plans looking increasingly likely to move forward sooner rather than later.

“We do want to modernise the stadium,” Marathe said recently.

“There’s the ability and capacity to increase it to 50,000-plus because the top Premier League clubs, that’s what they do have. Certainly, we have the demand.

"There’s also something really menacing about this environment for opposing team players.

“What we don’t want to do is renovate this into some sterile environment where you don’t have that. There’s magic out there on the pitch in this stadium and we want to keep that.”

Leeds are now looking to establish themselves as a Premier League force once more after a top half finish.

Marathe believes that the season just gone could potentially be a pivotal moment in history for the Whites.

“The first step of the future was showing we can belong, that we’re not a flash in the pan and we don’t hang on by the laces of our boots,” he added.

“We showed that. Finishing ninth is fantastic. Now, the players have such confidence and they know so many of these matches [were so tight].

“They [the players] were saying ‘if just one of the Brighton matches, or against Wolves or the first Arsenal match, if just one of those goes a little differently we’re playing for Europe.’

“How special is that? That’s the future, the future is continuing to be competitive and I do believe we’re going to look back on this day, on this year, three, five, seven years from now and all say to ourselves ‘this was the beginning of something special that happened in Covid’ and that’s what’s going to make it even more memorable.”