The 49ers are ready to buy Leeds United – what does that mean


The San Francisco 49ers are set to buy one of England’s most legendary football teams, Leeds United, in a deal worth over $400 million.

Leeds United’s fan base is intensely loyal, with the team recently promoted to the top flight of English football in 2020 after nearly 20 years in the lower leagues.

The club’s ties to American sport are already strong. The Leed United squad has two American football stars in the men’s national team, including Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson. And the club’s head coach, Jesse Marsch, is also American.

Leeds is a city in the north of England, located in the county of West Yorkshire, about an hour’s drive from Manchester, or nearly 200 miles from London.

The club were a European powerhouse for decades in the 90s, but fell on hard times at the turn of the century.

Pictured is Leeds United FC’s home stadium, Elland Road, in Leeds, England. The 49ers are set to buy the English Premier League football club. | Courtesy of Google Maps

In American terms, it was a major league team that had slipped into the minors and has since returned.

In 2018, the San Francisco 49ers the investment arm – 49ers Enterprises – bought a 10% stake in the team, promising to provide Leeds ownership with NFL expertise, business advice – such as how to develop a new stadium – and money to invest in better players.

And so far, it’s a good bet. Shortly after their investment, Leeds United were rejoined in the English Premier League (EPL), the top tier of English football.

The EPL is the world’s top football competition by revenue, according to Statisticala research company that analyzes market data.

Promotion to the EPL saw Leeds’ value swell from $45m to over $400m overnight.

Since then, the 49ers have been keen to increase their influence in the club they helped revive. Last year, Athleticism reported that the Niners’ stake has since risen to 44% and includes an option for a full takeover by January 2024.

Time reports that the recovery is now well underway. The newspaper says US banking sources familiar with the negotiations have confirmed that 49ers Enterprises have “put in place” the necessary finances to complete the deal, likely at the end of the Premier League season, which ends in May 2023.

Once the deal is done, the 49ers group would join a contingent of high profile American owners who already own some of the biggest teams in English football.

Los Angeles Rams owner and billionaire Stan Kroenke bought Arsenal Football Club in 2011. Before him, the Glazer family, which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, took over Manchester United.

Liverpool is owned by the same company that owns the Boston Red Sox. And after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ousted Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich from owning Chelsea, American billionaire Todd Boehly swooped in to buy the club.

The 49ers, on the other hand, are not owned by a billionaire. Their entry into the English game was more shrewd and intentional.

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Dianne Feinstein adjusts a television monitor in a private dressing room during an NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in 1990. | Kim Komenich/Getty Images

Allie Dicken, the 49ers’ director of brand and influencer marketing, said the yorkshire post office in October that their aim with the partnership is to “engage with existing sports fans in England and inspire them through our relationship to be involved in 49ers football”.

But a full takeover means signing up to do more than sell more 49ers jerseys overseas.

Leeds United is the only and Alone pro club. And if the Niners fail to lead a successful football team first, they will find out, as the Kroenkes and Glaziersthat England fans do not hesitate to bite the hands that feed.

For now, the takeover should not be hostile. Sources in both Leeds and the Niners have told The Standard that members of 49ers Enterprises have visited Leeds regularly since their initial investment and that the working relationship has been one of “support”. [current majority owner] Andrea Radrizzani” and its front office.

Standard has contacted 49ers Enterprises for an official comment on the reported takeover.

Leeds United are currently 12th out of 20 in the Premier League table. At the end of each season, the three worst performing teams are relegated to the lower division, losing all lucrative media rights that come with being in the elite.

Leeds flirted with relegation last season but narrowly survived the final week.


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