Andrea Radrizzani’s wants Leeds to challenge big six following 49ers investment

25 Jan 2021 09:52 pm, by YorkshireSquare

It was the summer of 2017 when sharp suited Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani completed his takeover of Leeds United from Massimo Cellino. Radrizzani came with a plan, a five-year vision to get Leeds United promoted back to the Premier League. That vision came with a promise too, if he did not achieve his aims, he would sell with someone better placed, with more resources to complete the job. If he succeeded, he would stay and build on his dream. In the end it only took Radrizzani three years to achieve his vision, the gamble on paying to bring in one of the greatest coaches in world football had paid off.

Radrizzani has always admitted he doesn’t have the pockets to compete with the likes of Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan or Roman Abramovich. He has always sought to bring in strategic partners to achieve his ambitions, the San Francisco 49ers being the main investors in the club. 49ers Enterprises initially took a 10% stake in Leeds United for £10 million back in 2018, valuing the club at £100 million. They since increased their stake to 15% and have now increased their investment again by a further 22%, taking their total share of the club to 37%. The lasts investment of around £50 million now values the club at around £225 million.

The new investment secures Leeds United’s finances through the Covid-19 pandemic and will help them to secure themselves in the Premier League but Andrea Radrizzani’s is setting his sights higher. He sees the investment and strengthening of the Partnership with the 49ers as an opportunity to build Leeds United’s commercial revenues, to develop Elland Road into a world class stadium, enhance the spectators matchday experience and one day compete with the ‘big six’ in the Premier League.

We have a three to five-year plan to reach the level we aim, and by staying in the Premier League for a few years we could aim to have a renovated stadium that could become a symbol of our ambition. If we are able to stay in the Premier League, after two or three years I think this club could step up to be in the group of three or four clubs next to the big ones.

Our model, I think, is Leicester City. If there’s a club I admire for what has been done in terms of football management, it’s Leicester. I respect and admire what Leicester has done so that is my model, what we should aim to be, how they manage the club and keep their standards high.

But will the 49ers £50 million bring any immediate investment into the football club? The money is believed to be being paid in instalments, so those hoping for Radrizzani to splash the cash on Rodrigo De Paul this January may be in for disappointment. £10 million here, £20 million there is small change in the Premier League, with £100 million already invested in the off season it doesn’t even cover our summer spending, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the TV revenues up for grabs.

This is by no means QSI level life changing investment for Leeds United. Essential and investment by a private equity arm of an American Football franchisee there is likely to be no additional investment, not without extra equity anyway. Newly promoted we are still relative paupers in the Premier League despite flexing our newly found financial muscles this summer. See this as more of a longer term strategic partnership to help build the club going forward. Leeds will still need to secure their foothold in the Premier League and invest in the team and facilities in order to maximise their commercial revenues. Then, one day, hopefully Radrizzani will achieve the aims of his next three to five year plan and we can compete with the ‘big six’.