Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani defended by chairman over Elland Road controversy
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Radrizzani’s tenure as owner of Leeds could come to an end in the not-so-distant future, with talks ongoing with part-owners 49ers Enterprises over a full takeover. Well aware of his potentially expiring ownership, Radrizzani appears to be planning for life after the Whites, taking over at Italian sleeping giant Sampdoria.
But the Leeds owner made headlines last week when it emerged that he had offered Elland Road as collateral in his bid to buy the Italian club, something that wasn’t willingly disclosed to Leeds fans. Elland Road is currently owned by Radrizzani’s Greenfield Investment group and leased back to United in what has become a common arrangement in football, albeit it has caused trouble for some clubs such as Coventry City.
Some fans were left enraged by the news Elland Road was offered up as collateral, but Peterborough owner MacAnthony has called for calm during an interview with TalkSPORT.
“The optics and timing are terrible,” he admitted. “Leeds have just been relegated, someone leaks this to The Athletic and then it comes out about a week later. If the Newcastle owners did this after qualifying for the Champions League there wouldn’t be much written about it. This kind of thing goes on in football all the time. You have to raise money somehow and you can’t get access to all your own cash because it might be locked up in stock, other businesses or whatever. Borrowing at seven per cent to do a deal - the Sampdoria deal looks like a good deal.
“Here’s my thing about the stadium... we’re talking about two companies here. You’ve got Leeds United Football Club and you’ve got the stadium company. He didn’t tell the 49ers, but he owns the stadium company, so really, it’s none of their business. The second thing is, if Leeds United have a 50-year lease on that stadium, does it matter who owns the stadium or if a bank repossesses it?
“My football club has a lease for the next 20-odd years with our stadium and we recently had an issue with it because there was an issue with the ownership among us - the three of us own the stadium company separately. But that doesn’t matter because our football club can play there for the next 20 years as long as they pay their lease every year. It’ll be the same for Leeds. So it’s really a storm in a teacup and it’s been overblown.”
Going on to defend Radrizzani and his Leeds tenure further, MacAnthony added: “I’ve seen some horrible owners. As bad as everything that’s going on in the boardroom is, I think they’re going to be all right. I think the 49ers will buy it and I think he knows the deal is going to be done, hence why he’s buying Sampdoria. The 49ers will buy it, and by the way, the people who own the 49ers, we’re talking billions.
“Leeds will be a force. If the fans are listening, don’t panic. You will be back in the Premier League, and once you get back again within the next 24 months, you won’t leave it.”