NFL’s 49ers finalize purchase of Leeds United

The owners of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers have assumed control of the English soccer club Leeds United.

Leeds United announced on Monday that the English Football League had approved the sale of the club to 49ers Enterprises, allowing for “an immediate transition of ownership.” Leeds was relegated from the Premier League to the second-tier Championship for next season.

“This is an important moment for Leeds United and we are already hard at work,” said Paraag Marathe, who will take over as chairman of the club. “This transition is a necessary reset to chart a new course for the Club.”

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Marathe succeeds Andrea Radrizzani as Leeds’ majority owner. Leeds CEO Angus Kinnear will remain in that role.

Marathe and 49ers CEO Jed York lead 49ers Enterprises. The ownership group first invested in Leeds in 2018 and increased its share to 44% in late 2021, then reached an agreement last month to take over Leeds with NBA players Larry Nance Jr. and T.J. McConnell joining as minority partners.

Golfers Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas will also be minority partners, Spieth said last week, and on Friday NBA star Russell Westbrook also bought a stake in the group.

Leeds appointed former Norwich City boss Daniel Farke as their new manager two weeks ago, on a four-year contract, to replace Sam Allardyce, who left the club by mutual agreement following relegation.

Farke led Norwich to the Premier League in his second season before they were relegated back to the second tier in 2019-20. They won the Championship and secured an immediate return to the top flight in 2020-21.

“It has been an honor to guide Leeds United over the last six years and to spend so much time with the best fan base in the world,” Radrizzani said.

“49ers Enterprises have been fantastic partners for years and I’m confident they will take Leeds to the next level.”

The statement did not say whether the Italian businessman, who is also chairman and founder of sports broadcasting group Eleven Sports, would still be linked to the club.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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