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The NRL San Francisco 49ers have purchased a minority stake in the Leeds United Football Club. How will the welcome financial boost be used, we wonder?
Leeds United and the San Francisco 49ers
What exactly does the investment in Leeds United by the San Francisco 49ers mean for the Football Club? Punters involved in the online betting available for Leeds FC hope it can be used to acquire good players over the transfer window, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The 49ers Kept It Low-Key
In a remarkably restrained fashion, and with their heads firmly under the radar, senior officials for the San Francisco 49ers were keeping a very close eye on the Leeds United Football Club this season.
They were present for three matches at Elland Road, as Andrea Radrizzani’s guests, and what started of as idle talk of possible sporting partnerships with one of Radrizzani’s other companies ended in a multi-million pound investment injected directly into the world of English football.
Secret Plans Afoot
There was more than enough intrigue over the disclosure that Radrizzani was making preparations to sell off a minority stake in Leeds United FC, just one year after he took 100% control of the Championship club, but the appearance of the National Football League, NFL, powerhouse in the Elland Road boardroom is a truly incredible development.
It cost the 49ers a rumoured £10 million of their budget to edge their way into the world of professional soccer, and the purchase of shares in Leeds United via 49ers Enterprises, their investment arm, will no doubt be attracting attention on both sides of the pond.
Who Is Paraag Marathe and How Is He Linked to the 49ers?
Radrizzani has known the 49ers executive, Paraag Marathe, who is set to join the board at Elland Road, for a number of years, and early talks about a working relationship between the pair was aimed at the 49ers collaborating with Aser, the investment firm that Radrizzani formed which became the ultimate parent company for Leeds United.
Over time these talks turned into conversations about the possibility of the 49ers taking a minority share in the Club itself, and putting Marathe in to place as a United Director. Marathe is a high-level figure in San Francisco who has been working for the 49ers since 2001, and has recently had his appointment approved by the English Football League, EFL.
Radrizzani Isn't Going Anywhere
Leeds is adamant that this sale of shares by Radrizzani so soon after his buyout of Massimo Cellino is not the first stage of plans to give up a larger stake, or eventually exit the club, despite how difficult the first season has been.
Those around the Italian majority owner do not think that there are tanks being positioned on the Leeds lawn by the 49ers, and deny that there is any long-term ambition on behalf of the NFL franchise to transform their minority shareholding into a larger chunk of equity.
49ers sources state the purchase has been about expanding the brand globally after managing to to emerge relatively unscathed from a very unstable period in their history, and that similarities were spotted in both clubs’ attempts to rediscover their lost aura.