Leeds United takeover: Yorkshire's sleeping giant could be about to wake
Investment from Qatar could see the Whites back in the big time and competing with Man City
It is 15 years since Leeds United crashed out of the Premier League, and in that time have flirted with bankruptcy, endured a stint in the third tier and survived the ownership of Massimo Cellino, but things are looking up at Elland Road and hopes are high that Yorkshire’s sleeping giant could soon rise again.
After missing out on promotion last season, the Whites currently lie third in the Championship, and off the field there are rumours of a takeover by Qatar – the owners of Paris Saint-Germain – something that could catapult Leeds back to the big time.
Talks with PSG owner
Leeds’ current owner, Italian Andrea Radrizzani, was in Paris this week for talks with Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the PSG president who also runs the state-owned Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) reports The Times.
“Radrizzani said last month that he is considering an offer from QSI to take the Sky Bet Championship club to a level where they could ‘compete with Manchester City’, but that he would only do a deal when the time is right,” says the paper.
“QSI is understood to view Leeds as a potential long-term project and that even if only a minority stake is bought initially, it would be with a view to owning the club outright.”
A good investment
Radriazzi has had offers from more than one potential buyer in the past year and it is easy to see why, says the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“Under his ownership, Leeds have become an attractive investment opportunity, with record commercial revenue and sponsorship deals with major global brands.”
But columnist Graham Smyth of the Evening Post isn’t surprised that the Whites are back in the spotlight. “The question is not why are investors interested, it is why wouldn’t they be? Leeds United sells,” he says.
“Leeds United sells tickets – Elland Road has been packed out by an average crowd of 35,000-plus this season. Under the current regime particularly, it sells replica shirts by the boat load and advertising space to major commercial entities.
“It sells hopes and dreams to the population of a city, to Yorkshire folk dispersed around the globe... The ground is a spiritual home, a footballing theatre that has hosted historical success, that is linked to a rich and storied heritage.”
What's the price?
The amount of noise about a deal makes it seem more than likely, says some dedicated Leeds watchers, including Phil Hay of website The Athletic. He says investment from Qatar would be “no surprise” but, writing on Twitter, added that the rumoured price of £50 to £70m seems unlikely as Radriazzi has already spent £65m buying the club and its ground.