San Francisco 49ers increase stake in Leeds United, Whites announce new vice chairman

Leeds United have welcome increased investment from their NFL partners.
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The San Francisco 49ers have increased their stake in Leeds United to 37 per cent with fresh investment.

Leeds confirmed the news this morning and revealed that Paraag Marathe, president of 49ers Enterprises, has become the new vice chairman at Elland Road.

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Marathe, who has sat on the board at the newly promoted Premier League club since 2018, says the minority shareholders want to increase their involvement.

Leeds United's home ground Elland Road. Pic: GettyLeeds United's home ground Elland Road. Pic: Getty
Leeds United's home ground Elland Road. Pic: Getty

He paid tribute to Whites owner Andrea Radrizzani for leading the club back to the top flight for the first time in 16 years.

“Our 49ers Enterprises team has always shared Andrea’s vision for constructing a powerful and winning club in the most competitive football league in the world, and the experience of the last three seasons has been more exhilarating than we could have ever imagined,” said Marathe.

“The hard work and bold leadership demonstrated by Andrea and his talented team has restored Leeds United’s rightful place in the Premier League and we look forward to playing an even bigger role in supporting their efforts to climb the table this year and into the future.”

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Radrizzani first became involved at Leeds United in January 2017, taking a 50 per cent shareholding from then owner Massimo Cellino.

In May of that year Radrizzani took full control and under his ownership the club has enjoyed record commercial revenue and a promotion to the top flight.

He says the 49ers are the right investors for the 101-year-old club.

“We are delighted to welcome further investment into our club from 49ers Enterprises and I am confident that this latest partnership will help Leeds United continue to grow and develop into the team our supporters deserve,” he said.

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“I have always been open to bringing partners on this journey with me, as long as these actions can benefit the long-term strategy of the club. Paraag and the team at 49ers Enterprises are uniquely positioned to collaborate with myself, Angus Kinnear, Victor Orta and our management team to help us achieve our goals.”

The 49ers bought a 15 per cent stake in 2018 and share Radrizzani's vision of a Leeds United firmly re-established in the top tier of English football, playing in a redeveloped Elland Road stadium, with aspirations of one day returning to European football.

“Now that we have achieved promotion and made a positive start to the new campaign, there is no better time to be looking ahead to the future, as we aim to take this football club to the next level, initially by becoming an established Premier League side before chasing our dreams of taking Leeds United back into Europe,” said the owner.

“We must also be focused on reaching our potential commercially and developing Elland Road and our training facilities.”

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The new investment will give Marathe more involvement in day-to-day decision making at Elland Road, along with 49ers Enterprises vice president Colin Meador and other key personnel.

Marathe, who has served as executive vice president of football operations, chief operating officer and team president of the NFL franchise, says the 49ers' desire is to help Leeds compete for honours at the top level as they did in their most glorious era.

“We are increasing our investment in Leeds United now to support and augment the organizational infrastructure needed to remain competitive in the Premier League,” he said.

“We are committed to doing all we can to help the club compete for championships against the best football clubs in the world while providing an elevated supporter experience at Elland Road.”