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49ers ready to help Leeds become global force

The San Francisco 49ers are exploring the possibility of increasing their stake in newly promoted Premier League side, Leeds United, according to the franchises executive Paraag Marathe.

The National Football League (NFL) side already own a 10 per cent equity stake in Leeds United, through 49ers Enterprises but are now looking to further this by making the side “more of a global force” both on and off the pitch.

The relationship between the two sporting entities has a been positive one since its inception in 2018, where Marathe joined Leeds’ board of directors after the purchase and has remained in frequent contact with majority owner Andrea Radrizzani, Victor Orta, the clubs director of football and the chief executive, Angus Kinnear.

It has been said that the partnership has seen the US based franchise provide strategic advice for improving the fan experience at Elland Road, help in producing the new training ground and increase the clubs revenues. It was also the 49ers who envisioned the traits an ideal head coach should possess, which is information they shared with Leeds United prior to them finding and hiring Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds now find themselves in the top flight of English football for the first time since 2004 and will study every avenue to ensure that they do all that they can to remain in the league, which could be mean Radrizzani selling more of his stake in the club to 49ers Enterprises.

Speaking to SportBusiness, Marathe stated: “We’re exploring the possibility of maybe becoming even bigger partners. It is something that we’re open to.

“Hopefully it works out if he’s [Radrizzani] looking for more and we’re open to more than maybe we should try something.”

“The path and the story is only beginning, it’s not the last chapter, it’s now only the second chapter in a much longer book.

“Now it’s about proving that we belong and trying to climb the ranks within the Premier League so there is a lot more to do. It’s directly correlated with how much we can grow the commercial side of the business in terms of how much more we can afford on the pitch.”

Marathe added that he sees the different global markets that the Premier League are able to operate in as the way to grow the club further.

“One fantastic thing about the way the Premier League or the [English Football League] works is that the club controls and owns its brand globally.

“That is different from American sports with the 49ers where we only really control the brand within our local market and anything outside of the market, the NFL, as a whole, controls all 32 logos.

“This provides a huge opportunity for clubs like Leeds, as Manchester United has already demonstrated, that they can do things in Asia and South America. That is something I’m excited to see if we can help Leeds really become more of a global force.”

Alongside their associates, the 49ers had a successful season themselves in the NFL having won the NFC Championship, which saw them compete in the Super Bowl against Kansas City Chiefs who beat them 31-20.

Author: Jake Wilkin