‘Common sense says…’ – Phil Hay delivers verdict on when 49ers takeover of Leeds may happen

LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Andrea Radrizzani, the Leeds United chairman and owner looks on during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Elland Road on August 06, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Speaking on today’s edition of the Phil Hay Show Podcast, The Athletic’s Leeds United correspondent Phil Hay has revealed he believes 49ers Enterprises will wait until next summer to buy out current Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani.

Hay’s prediction comes after a report released by Martyn Ziegler of The Times that Leeds’ American investors were making financial moves with US banks in order to generate funds to make a full purchase of the Yorkshire club.

49ers Enterprises currently holds a 44 percent stake in the ownership of the Whites, with an option currently existing for the American franchise to buy out current club chairman Andrea Radrizzani in January 2024.

Speaking on the significance of Ziegler’s report, Hay said: “I think you can surmise on the basis of Martyn writing what he’s written that he now thinks that yeah, 100%, this will go ahead.

The question that’s still there and pretty much the question that everybody’s been asking is when? You know, when will they do this?”

This question has been a source of much speculation amongst Leeds fans as – despite most of the rumours circulating suggesting that the 49ers will wait until next summer to buy – there is a not insignificant contingent who think, and in some instances hope, that the American franchise will pull the trigger on the deal far sooner.

The decision to wait until the end of the Premier League campaign to decide whether to buy the club would prove the more financially strategic one, as the final sale price will change drastically depending on whether Leeds secure their status in England’s top flight or not. In a deal estimated to be “valued in the region of half a billion pounds” at the time the news of the 49ers’ plans first broke in December of 2021, according to Hay, the American franchise’s desire to exercise fiscal prudence here is understandable.

It is unclear whether Radrizzani is willing to give up his majority stake in the club at this stage, however, especially after stating in an interview with The Athletic in August that he still has ambitions of seeing Leeds play in Europe before he departs the club.

Expanding on the specifics of the January 2024 deal, Hay confirmed that the option for the 49ers to buy out Radrizzani existed until this date rather than being made available upon it, as has been reported elsewhere.

“Our [Hay and David Ornstein] understanding was that the option was there until 2024.

I think though it’s one of those where if the 49ers were intent on buying, and Radrizzani was intent on selling, it seems unlikely to me that even if it went beyond January 2024 that there wouldn’t be scope to still do the deal and sell the club.

It might be that the option will persist beyond there.”

When asked by podcast host Dan Moylan about his specific opinion on when he believes the takeover will happen by, Hay’s response was sometime next summer.

He said: “Common sense says that you do it off-season, doesn’t it, rather than trying to do it mid-season with all the transitional aspects of senior management, executives, staff.

If you’re going to change any of them it is much easier to do it […] when the season is off.’

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