The deputy leader of Leeds City Council has promised to support Leeds United’s plans for major redevelopment of the land around Elland Road following Andrea Radrizzani’s purchase of the club’s stadium.
James Lewis, the Labour councillor for Kippax and Methley, said the authority was ready to back Radrizzani’s aim of revamping the Elland Road site after a series of discussions with United’s new owner.
Radrizzani marked his recent takeover of Leeds by completing the repurchase of Elland Road for around £20m on Wednesday, 13 years after the ground was sold to private owners.
The acquisition is the first stage of Radrizzani’s ‘Elland Road 2020’ scheme, a project which the Italian hopes will lead to substantial investment in much of the council-owned property close to the stadium.
His plans include the relocation of United’s Thorp Arch training complex to a new venue near Elland Road. Sites in Holbeck are believed to be under consideration.
Having a meaningful partnership and moving forward together to give the club a significant stake in the community is the important bit for us.James Lewis, the Labour councillor for Kippax and Methley
Cllr Lewis said discussions with Radrizzani, who bought full control of Leeds from Massimo Cellino last month, had created a “professional and constructive relationship between the club and the council.”
He described Radrizzani’s purchase of Elland Road - a deal which will free Leeds from an annual rent of £1.7m - as a “huge statement of intent”, telling the YEP: “It shows that they’re very serious about developing the facility. We’ll work with them to support the club’s plan and bring private investment alongside it.
“The council owns significant amounts of land in the area. Having a meaningful partnership and moving forward together to give the club a significant stake in the community is the important bit for us.”
Council chief executive Tom Riordan, who revealed that three meetings at a “very senior level” had already taken place with United officials, said he was further encouraged by Radrizzani’s involvement with the Leeds United Foundation and his decision to bring Leeds Ladies Football Club back under the Leeds United umbrella.
Riordan said: “The discussions we’ve had already make us much more optimistic and confident that (Radrizzani) hasn’t just got the ambition but also the ability to deliver.”