'Off the charts' - San Fransisco 49ers president sends message to Leeds United supporters
The president of the San Francisco 49ers Al Guido says they are committed to helping Leeds United return to the place they once occupied at the top of English football.
In January of this year 49ers Enterprises, the investment arm of the National Football League [NFL] franchise increased their stake at Elland Road from 15 per cent to 37 per cent.
Guido, who is in his fifth year as 49ers president, says there are sufficient parallels between the two sporting organisations that investing in the Whites made sense.
"The financial value is we truly believe in the club and were it could go," he told SportsPro podcast."Paraag Marathe is on the board at Leeds and president of the 49ers Enterprises, our investment arm, would say and I would agree that Leeds United and the 49ers have a lot of similarities in the sense that were once a championship team, five Superbowls, and we fell on hard times. We went through a period of time where we weren't a play-off team, our revenues were maybe at the bottom half of the NFL.
"Investment in the team, the players, sophistication and the stadium, ultimately brought us back to a top quartile team in the National Football League, relative to business, but also brought us back to prominence on the field.
"[Leeds] had a tremendous fanbase and following, sold out matches every single game even in the second division and a pedigree of a team that we believed, as you work with Andrea [Radrizzani, Leeds owner] and Angus [Kinnear, Leeds CEO], that run efficiently and with the thought of becoming a sustainable Premier League team, we could help or guide.
"The reality is we're not experts, Angus is certainly the expert, and we have a lot to learn. I think some of those key components of what makes a franchise or club successful are the same in the US as they are over there. Some of the ways in which you go about it are very different but the components themselves are the same, an engaged fanbase, a good stadium experience, social and digital concepts and monetisation, obviously quality players on the pitch and the management and the sporting side and investment that makes these teams really good."
Guido's hope is that through the weekly calls between the 49ers and Leeds, that they can explore the ways in which they can assist Leeds in their bid to progress from a team who are all-but safe in the Premier League this season, to a club much higher up the table.
He believes the relationship between the two organisations can deepen, too.
"The answer is always sure - it's already gotten deeper in the sense of our increased stake in the team, our involvment in the club," he said.
"What I would say is we are commited to Leeds United. We love the club, we love the supporters, we love the management team. It's fun in the Bay Area waking up and watching their matches and texting back and forth with the folks over there.
"For us, our engagement level is off the charts. I will tell you and any Leeds supporter listening, you have a very passionate and engaged operation at the San Fransisco 49ers that one, want to help but two, want to get back to the place every Leeds United supporter wants to get back to and that's at the top of the league."