Leeds’ American investors the San Francisco 49ers are reportedly preparing for a full takeover of the Yorkshire club ‘as soon as the end of the season’, according to The Times.
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.
The Times cites numerous US banking sources in their report, claiming that the 49ers have been attempting to secure the necessary funding to buy out Radrizzani in recent weeks.
The decision by the Americans to wait until the end of the Premier League campaign to decide whether to buy the club or not is a 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.
These developments do not represent a hostile takeover, as Radrizzani and the executive body of 49ers Enterprises appear to have a good working relationship with one another.
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.
If this deal were to happen it would mark the final outcome of a gradual increase in American involvement with the running of Leeds, as the 49ers initial 15 percent stake in the club – bought when Leeds were still hunting promotion in the Championship – could become ownership of the entire thing by the middle of 2023.
Whatever happens, it is important that the deal is sorted cleanly and amicably, without any ill feeling emerging between the two majority shareholders involved in it. Whilst some Leeds fans will no doubt be wary of the intentions of their club’s new owners, there will also be some who will welcome the opportunity for greater investment which the 49ers bring. Perhaps such a change is necessary to take the Whites forward and hopefully achieve Radrizzani’s European dream, albeit without him being there to witness it.