49ers Enterprises, the investment arm of NFL American football's San Francisco 49ers, has sold a minority stake in second-tier English soccer club Leeds United to US-based private equity firm Ackerley Partners, it has been reported.
Ackerley’s funds will be used to expand the Yorkshire-based side’s soccer and commercial operations, according to Bloomberg.
49ers Enterprises acquired a majority stake in Leeds in June after agreeing a deal with previous owner Andrea Radrizzani’s Aser Ventures company.
The deal to purchase Radrizzani’s stake in the club was valued at £170 million ($213.1 million).
The 49ers and Leeds have been formally linked since January 2014 when the two organizations entered into a strategic partnership.
The NFL team’s investment vehicle initially bought a 15% stake in Leeds in 2018 and increased this to 44% in 2021, with that deal including an option for 100% ownership by 2024.
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Leeds are playing in the second-tier EFL Championship this season after being relegated from the top-flight Premier League last year.
Ackerly has notable sports figures like former NFL player Cliff Avril and motorsport driver James Dayson among its investors.
Despite the arrival of Ackerly, the 49ers are reportedly still seeking further investors, with another minority stake potentially on offer.
Several high-profile sports athletes have joined Leeds’ new ownership group in recent months, including American golfers Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas and NBA basketball star Russell Westbrook.
The 49ers group will soon look to begin work to redevelop parts of the team’s Elland Road stadium and are keen to expand the venue’s capacity.
Leeds are currently third in the Championship and seeking to make an instant return to the financial behemoth that is the Premier League.