Timing is everything as Leeds United 49ers Enterprises takeover round two ticks towards pre-season
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Takeovers take time. There's the wrangling and negotiating between seller and buyer - call that round one. You might have expected 49ers Enterprises to be able to skip that part, having thrashed out a deal with Andrea Radrizzani for his 56 per cent stake, but you'd be wrong. The deal they agreed was for a Premier League club, at a Premier League price. And when Premier League status was lost, that deal meant next to nothing. For whatever reason, there was no contingency deal in place for the event of relegation and so it was back to square one, insofar as both parties had to first ascertain that a takeover was what they actually wanted. Then they had to come up with a fresh price.
All in all, between the confirmation of Leeds' exit from the top flight and an agreement being announced, round one took 12 days, which doesn't feel at all lengthy when you consider that Radrizzani had to reach the undoubtedly difficult and emotional decision to sell and Paraag Marathe had to gather his investors to ensure they all wanted to stay involved with a Championship club.
Round two consists of legalities and, most significantly of all for any club, ratification by the relevant footballing authorities. In this case, although Leeds could begin some of the work in that regard while still under Premier League jurisdiction, the English Football League are the ones who must ask their own fresh questions of the significant investors and would-be directors in the 49ers Enterprises group. Those tests have been beefed up, the EFL is keen to avoid repeat scenarios of disasters that befell clubs under problematic ownership, and the YEP understands that the 49ers group involves around 10 major players. These things take time.
EFL ratification of other takeovers has run into weeks, months even.
As Karl Robinson, who managed Oxford United during a protracted takeover told the YEP: "You can't just click your fingers and buy a club, these things can be a long, drawn-out process."
Leeds are confident this will not be so drawn out but round two has ticked over into its 20th day. We're still talking days, not months like at other clubs, and Leeds have had an enormous amount to do in not a lot of time, yet supporters are getting anxious, because of timing.
Had 49ers Enterprises submitted the takeover for EFL approval mid-season, say February, then there would be little panic to speak of. It could tick along in the background, referenced every few weeks in the press. But because this is the summer, a transfer window, and pre-season is set to begin, you can understand concerns. Though a thorough recruitment process has been completed, no manager has yet been announced. Though transfer meetings are being held and phone calls to agents of players like Nat Phillips are being made, no players have yet been signed.
All of that is being lined up, the manager you expect will be ready to go when the takeover is ratified and signings could follow soon after, but a point made last Friday bears repeating - Marathe is vice chairman of Leeds United, not the owner. Any major decisions, like the appointment and unveiling of a manager, would currently need to go through the majority shareholder. It would be far neater and more satisfying for those about to bankroll the club, to have their names above the door before news is shared.
However, as we near the first week of pre-season it may be the case that Leeds need to give serious thought to whatever steps can be taken to get their manager confirmed and in place, regardless of EFL approval of the takeover and completion of the deal. No one wants to put the cart before the horse but timing is everything.