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49ers Enterprises to acquire Radrizzani’s Leeds stake

Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani has reached an agreement to sell his majority stake in the club to 49ers Enterprises, the American investment group.

This development will grant 49ers Enterprises, who have been minority shareholders in Leeds since 2018 and also own the NFL franchise San Francisco 49ers, full ownership of the club.

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Leeds United can confirm an agreement has been reached between Aser Ventures and 49ers Enterprises for the purchase of the club,” said a statement.

“Both parties continue to work through the details, and further updates will be provided soon.

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“All of our focus remains on a quick return to the Premier League.”

In 2021, 49ers Enterprises raised its stake in Leeds to 44 percent, with an option to acquire the remaining 56 percent held by Andrea Radrizzani before January 2024. Originally, the American group aimed for a complete takeover during this summer, contingent upon Leeds remaining in the Premier League. However, following the club’s relegation last month, both parties engaged in intense negotiations, resulting in a agreed valuation of approximately £170 million.

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This agreement signifies the conclusion of Radrizzani’s six-year ownership of Leeds. He took over the club entirely from Massimo Cellino in 2017, which was widely supported by fans. Radrizzani’s ownership saw the repurchase of Elland Road stadium, previously privately owned since 2004, and introduced fresh investment when 49ers Enterprises initially acquired a 10 percent stake in 2018.

Furthermore, the pivotal appointment of Marcelo Bielsa as manager proved to be a masterstroke, as Leeds secured promotion back to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.

During this period, 49ers Enterprises steadily increased its ownership stake in Leeds, while the relationship between chairman Andrea Radrizzani and the Leeds fanbase began to deteriorate, particularly when Marcelo Bielsa was dismissed from his managerial position in February 2022.

Leeds narrowly avoided relegation on the final day of the 2021-2022 season under Bielsa’s successor, Jesse Marsch. Radrizzani assured fans that the club would not be involved in another survival battle. However, the team’s performance did not improve during the following season, leading to Marsch’s dismissal in February. Javi Gracia and later Sam Allardyce, who was appointed for the final four games, were unable to stop the downward trend.

When Leeds’ relegation was confirmed with a defeat to Tottenham on the last day of the season, Radrizzani was absent from Elland Road as he was finalizing his takeover of Sampdoria in Italy. In a personal statement posted on social media, he admitted that the board had made mistakes and apologized for the club’s relegation.

Radrizzani’s legacy faced further tarnishment when it was revealed that he had offered Elland Road as collateral when securing a £26 million bank loan to purchase Sampdoria. It became apparent that the stadium was owned by one of his companies, not Leeds, which further added to the criticism against him.

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