Leeds United could begin their first season back in the Premier League in 16 years under new ownership, amid interest in a takeover by the owners of NFL franchise San Francisco 49ers.
Current Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani, whose company completed the buyout of former owner Massimo Cellino in 2017, has already been holding talks about selling the club and Qatari Sports Investment, the same company that backs Paris Saint-Germain, have also been a contender.
After years of struggling and several promotion near misses, Radrizzani’s ownership has seen Leeds return to the Premier League as Championship winners within three years.
The Italian businessman has given Leeds back a solid foundation and in 2017 brought Elland Road back under the club’s control for the first time since 2004 when it was sold off and leased back during a period of financial crisis following Premier League relegation.
Radrizzani is believed to have paid around £20m to buy it back soon after taking control.
Now, he could be ready to cash in on his 90% stake in Leeds as the club seeks to take the next step now that they are at last back in the top flight – a return to the Champions League is already being targeted as the club also looks to tie down manager Marcelo Bielsa.
QSI appeared to be the leading company in takeover talks, but 90min can now reveal that 49ers enterprises, who already own a 10% minority stake in the club, are now favourites to take control.
Leeds first entered a collaborative partnership with the 49ers in May 2018 that was intended to given the club access to San Francisco’s ‘rich source of business and sporting expertise’. That deal also included the investment from the 49ers’ parent company, owned by the billionaire York family.
At the time of the original partnership a full takeover was not on the cards, but things have now changed. 90min understands that Radrizzani included an option for 49ers Enterprises as part of their deal and the Americans are ready to push through a full takeover.
Radrizzani, who is thought to have paid £45m to buy Leeds from former Cellino – but then invested heavily thereafter – stands to pocket around £250m for selling his 90% stake.