San Francisco 49ers – Leeds United? Yeah, there is a connection.
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The 49ers own a 10 percent stake in Leeds, which they purchased in 2018, and they’ve made no secret of their plans to try and increase their stake in the newly-promoted Premier League club.
Ahead of Leeds’ clash with Manchester City on Saturday (watch live, 12:30pm ET on NBC and live online via NBCSports.com) San Francisco 49ers EVP of football operations and Leeds United director Paraag Marathe spoke with Roger Bennett from Men In Blazers.
“The sky is the limit for Leeds. This is not a club where we made it to the Premier League and we are barely trying to hang on by the laces of our shoes. No. This is a club which can become a big contender year in, year out in the Premier League,” Marathe said.
That is quite the statement.
How did Marathe get involved with Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani?
“It was actually three ownership groups prior to Andrea that I reached out, I want to say about 2012, about sharing business practices and doing the sort of partnership. We even announced it,” Marathe said. “We didn’t invest any money but we even announced it publicly and had a press release. Nothing materialized and fortunately because that would not have ended up well. I met Andrea in 2015 through a personal friend and he had a day here and we spent the day at Levi’s Stadium with dinner and drinks. Fast-forward six months and he purchased Leeds.
“I said, ‘hang on a minute, this is a club I’ve been looking at’ and I saw so many similarities wit the 49ers a decade ago or 15 years ago. We have a global fanbase and are one of the top brands in the world in any sport but the 49ers were falling on hard times. We rebuilt the franchise and that’s sort of where I saw Leeds the growth opportunity and direction they were heading in.”
Marathe has big plans for Leeds United and they are a sleeping giant, just like the 49ers.