49ers eye increased stake in Leeds United
49ers Enterprises, the NFL American football team's investment arm, is interested in increasing its stake in Leeds United, newly promoted to English soccer's top-tier Premier League
In an interview with the New York Times, Paraag Marathe, who has sat on Leeds’ board of directors since 49ers Enterprises acquired a 10-per-cent stake in the northern club two years ago, said: “It’s something that we are absolutely hoping to do.
“The journey isn’t concluded, it’s just beginning.”
However, he added that “this is more about continuing our journey than it is about what the multiple on our investment is.”
Leeds recently won the second-tier EFL Championship to secure promotion and end a 16-year stint outside England's top flight.
Speaking to local media, Andrea Radrizzani, Leeds’ owner for the past three years, talked up the possibility of external funding, saying that "we will need additional investment to be competitive and to continue our project, and to (stay in) the Premier League.”
On the 49ers involvement, he said: “They have done a good deal investing in the club with me. They see their investment already worth 3.5 times higher in value than what they put in… They are good friends, a good partner.
“They could bring more value than has been done until now. I expect them to step up and help us more.”
The 49ers and Leeds have been formally linked since January 2014 when the two organisations entered into a strategic partnership.
The investment, in May 2018, came as part of a wider tie-up between 49ers Enterprises and Aser, the investment company founded by Radrizzani.
At the time, it was reported that Leeds would benefit from the 49ers’ business expertise in areas including ticketing strategies, sponsorship and commercial opportunities, stadium development, technology, retail and merchandising, and sport development and training.
Over the last year, reports have periodically linked Leeds with interest from Qatar Sports Investments, a vehicle which controls French soccer giants Paris Saint-Germain.
Last July, Radrizzani travelled to Doha, Qatar’s capital, for talks with QSI, which has been linked with investing in or buying an English club with potential and rich heritage such as Leeds.