49ers Enterprises, the investment arm of NFL American football's San Francisco 49ers, can complete a full takeover of Leeds United in 2024 after recently increasing its stake in the English Premier League soccer club, it has been reported.
The 49ers’ investment vehicle upped its stake to 44 per cent last month and pumped further funds into the Yorkshire-based outfit, with the deal including an option for 100 per cent ownership in just over two years’ time, according to The Athletic.
A deal for a full buy-out valued at more than £475 million that can be completed in early 2024 was reportedly agreed with current owners Aser Ventues, the investment company founded by Andrea Radrizzani, in January this year, when the 49ers' stake went up to 37 per cent.
A potential deal would also include ownership of Leeds’ Elland Road stadium.
The Athletic report also states that a buy-out could come sooner than January 2024.
49ers Enterprises first acquired a 15-per-cent stake in Leeds in 2017 as part of a wider tie-up with Aser, which owns Leeds and international pay-television broadcaster Eleven Sports. A further 22 per cent, taking its stake to 37 per cent in total, was then purchased at the start of this year.
The company’s total is now only six per cent short of a majority.
Through the new investment, 49ers Enterprises and Aser Ventures are expected to further expand their wider business alliance and to continue sharing investment expertise and networks.
The 49ers and Leeds have been formally linked since January 2014 when the two organisations entered into a strategic partnership.
Radrizzani, the former chief executive of the MP & Silva agency who completed his takeover of Leeds in 2017, still retains a majority stake, however.
During the three years of collaboration between Leeds, Aser and 49ers Enterprises, the club has enjoyed significant progress on and off the pitch, posting record commercial revenues, as well as winning the second-tier EFL Championship in the 2019-20 season to win promotion to the Premier League and then securing an impressive ninth-place finish in the top-tier competition last season.
49ers Enterprises is represented on Leeds’ board of directors by Paraag Marathe, who in January became vice-chairman of the northern club.
Over the past two years, reports have periodically linked Leeds with interest from Qatar Sports Investments, a vehicle that controls French soccer giants Paris Saint-Germain.
In 2019, 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.