49ers Enterprises Become Minority Owner in Leeds United

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2018

San Francisco 49ers helmets are seen in the bench area during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

English soccer club Leeds United announced Thursday that the San Francisco 49ers' investment arm, 49ers Enterprises, purchased a minority stake in the club.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Niners and Leeds United will launch a strategic partnership with 49ers president Paraag Marathe serving as the director of the English Football League Championship side.

Per the BBC, Leeds United confirmed the partnership with chairman Andrea Radrizzani, saying: "This exciting partnership builds on the foundations we have laid down at the club in the last 12 months, and we can assure supporters that the funds invested will go towards improving results on the pitch."

The 49ers have reportedly purchased a 10 percent stake in the club, and it could lead to Leeds United playing some matches at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Leeds United was once among the dominant clubs in English soccer with three league championships and five runner-up finishes, mostly in the 1960s and 70s.

Since last winning a title in 1991-92, however, Leeds have struggled.

The club suffered through a financial implosion that led to Leeds getting relegated to the second tier of English soccer and then eventually the third tier, League One, in 2007.

It has dealt with several ownership changes since then as well, with Radrizzani most recently taking over for Massimo Cellino in 2017

They are currently part of the EFL Championship, which is the second-highest division in English soccer behind the Premier League.

Leeds finished a disappointing 13th in the standings this season, meaning they will not be promoted to the EPL in 2018-19.

With the financial backing of the 49ers, though, there is now some hope that Leeds could return to the prominence they once achieved as one of the top clubs in the world.

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