The San Francisco 49ers this week increased their stake in English Premier League soccer team Leeds United, taking their total holding to 44%. Rumors about a total takeover are now circling in the British press and on soccer forums.…
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The latest investment is the 49ers’ fourth since they first did business with Leeds United majority stakeholder and chairman Andrea Radrizzani in 2018. Leeds United was in the second tier of English soccer then, and the 49ers paid $13.6 million for a 15% equity stake. Since then, Leeds United has been rejuvenated and now resides in the Premier League after a 16-year absence.
All newly promoted teams go into their first season as favorites to be relegated but under the stewardship of renowned head coach Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds United defied the odds and finished ninth in the table, only six points off winning a seat in the following season’s European competition, and some 31 points clear of the relegation zone. However, things have not been as smooth sailing this season, much like they have not been for the 49ers, who are also struggling for consistency, which is reflected in the latest NFL odds at vegasbetting.com
49ers Increase Their Stake For the First Time
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The 49ers were so impressed with how the team progressed that it increased its stake to 25% in December 2020, valuing Leeds United at $326 million. Another investment a month later took the 49ers’ interest to 37%.
Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear welcomed the additional investment and stated this latest deal keeps the club on track for its long-term goals.
“We are delighted to see Aser Ventures (Radrizanni’s investment company) strengthen their partnership with 49ers Enterprises, who have clearly been impressed b the quality of the project. Aser Ventures and Chairman Andrea Radrizzani remain unequivocally committed to the club, while all those involved with the 49ers are actively working with our management team on a daily basis to help to drive us forward, putting us in a strong position to achieve our goals in the coming years.”
Paraag Marathe, the 49ers executive, has held a seat on the Leeds United board since San Francisco’s first investment in 2018. Marathe has big plans for Leeds United off the field, including expanding the famous Elland Road stadium’s capacity to 55,000 and increasing the commercial success of the team considered a sleeping giant in English soccer circles.
Huge Prize Money At Stake
The Premier League is big business and one of the most-watched sports worldwide. Premier League officials struck a multi-billion dollar deal with broadcasters, resulting in colossal prize money for the league’s teams. For example, Leeds United picked up $181 million following their ninth-place finish last season. Even Sheffield United, the division’s bottom club, was relegated with $122 million in prize money. It is easy to see why the 49ers have their interest piqued.
This is likely the last investment the 49ers can make without making an offer for all Leeds United’s shares and completing a total takeover. Neither party has indicated such a move is on the horizon.
Leeds United has not got off to the best of starts in the current campaign and currently occupies 15th place in the Premier League table, with 11 points from 11 games. The Whites had 14 points at the same stage last season and resided in 13th.
Injuries to key personnel have not helped Leeds’ cause, but this latest cash injection could be used to bolster the squad when the transfer window temporarily opens on January 1, 2022. In December, Leeds has a tough run of fixtures, including facing Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool.
It has not been the best of seasons for the 49ers either. After going 13-3 and reaching the Super Bowl in 2019, they went 6-10 in 2020 and missed the playoffs. Kyle Shanahan’s men are currently 3-5 in the NFC West after a 2-0 start to the campaign. Four consecutive defeats in weeks 3-7 have not helped the 49ers’ cause. They were more convincing in the 33-22 win at Chicago Bears but equally disappointing in the 17-31 defeat at home to the Arizona Cardinals.
A tough home fixture against the Los Angeles Rams (7-2) takes place November 15, with winnable games at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) and home to Minnesota Vikings (3-5) following that.