'We want to help Leeds United get back to where they belong', new board member Marathe discusses investment
New Leeds United director Paraag Marathe wants the Elland Road club and the San Francisco 49ers to undergo a mutual resurgence following the sale of a minority stake in Leeds to the NFL franchise.
Marathe, who led the 49ers’ purchase of a shareholding of just over 10 per cent in Leeds, claimed the San Francisco outfit had been motivated in part by seeing United owner Andrea Radrizzani’s attempts to revive a club who has been trapped outside England’s Premier League for the past 14 years.
The 49ers’ investment in United has cost close to £10m, all of which has been injected into the club, and secured Marathe - the president of 49ers Enterprise, the franchise’s investment arm - a seat on the board at Elland Road.
The 49ers are one of the most valuable US sports teams and have five Super Bowls on their record last won the NFL’s biggest prize since 1994 and have not appeared in the Super Bowl since 2012. Last season they finished with a record of six wins and 10 defeats.
San Francisco 49ers buy minority stake in Leeds UnitedMarathe told LUTV: “The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most prominent franchises in all of professional sports and certainly in the NFL.
“Similar to Leeds, we have a storied history with a lot of Hall of Fame players and we’re right in the middle of building a foundation and getting the 49ers back to where they belong, which is the top of the NFL. That’s why I see a lot of similarities to what is happening at Leeds, of getting back to where Leeds United belong.
“I’ve got to know Andrea over several years. It started out just sharing ideas and talking about what he does at Leeds and what I do at the 49ers. There was a kinship there, a personal and professional kinship, and we thought there were a lot of things we could do to help each other. We started to dive in and get involved.
Who is new Leeds United director Paraag Marathe and what has he done at the 49ers?“There’s a lot of learning we do at the NFL that we can bring over to England. At the end of the day, this isn’t rocket science. Professional sport is professional sport. You’re trying to take smart ideas and apply them somewhere else and turn teams into winners.”
Marathe, who has been closely involved with the 49ers’ football operations for many years, spoke with United’s squad and head coach Paul Heckingbottom prior to the completion of the deal with Radrizzani.
What does the San Francisco 49ers investment mean for Leeds United?“I had the chance to talk to the players about what I see with the 49ers players and what makes them successful,” he said.
“What separates an average NFL player from a Pro-Bowl, All-Star type player in the NFL is that their job isn’t just a job. It’s not just practices and games. It’s a way of life. It’s how they sleep, how they eat, how they train. Who they listen to, who their mentors are, how much they study. It’s 24 hours a day and no rest until success.”