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49ers spend roughly $13 million to buy 10% share in Leeds United

Leeds United v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers made news this week as they announced an investment in an English soccer club. The team announced that 49ers Enterprises, “an investment entity affiliated with the [team] is forming a “strategic partnership” with Leeds United.

The deal involves the 49ers becoming a minority investor in the club. SB Nation has a Leeds United site called Through It All Together, and they have had excellent coverage of the purchasing process over the past week couple weeks. Two weeks ago, word got out that Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani was adding an investor to the fold. Reports then had the deal for just under £9 million pounds, but there is word that it might be a £10 million pound investment. At today’s exchange rate, that latter figure converts to nearly $13.4 million. According to the report, the deal was for a 10 percent ownership stake in the organization.

With the deal, 49ers executive VP of football operations and President of 49ers Enterprises Paraag Marathe has assumed a seat on the Leeds United Board of Directors.

For those wondering, Leeds is in the second division of English soccer, known as English Football League Championship. They finished this season 13th out of 24 teams, avoiding relegation, but missing out on promotion to the Premier League. They have been in the EFL Championship division since the 2010-11 season. They were in the Premier League for a long time, but it appears some bad spending habits resulted in them slipping two divisions to League One. They worked their way up one level to the Championship division where they reside today.

Here is the 49ers full press release.

An investment entity affiliated with the San Francisco 49ers, 49ers Enterprises, today announced a strategic partnership with English Soccer Club Leeds United.

49ers Enterprises, which will become a minority investor in Leeds United, has partnered with existing majority shareholder and Leeds United Club Chairman Andrea Radrizzani. The partnership with 49ers Enterprises strengthens the commercial, operational, and sporting capabilities of the Club and further supports Radrizzani’s commitment to bring success to Leeds United on the pitch.

The funds invested by 49ers Enterprises will remain inside the Club and will go towards investment in the first-team squad.

The unique collaboration is part of a wider business alliance between Leeds United’s parent company, Aser, and 49ers Enterprises. It will see Leeds United benefit from the experience and collective network of the two entities—inside the sports and business worlds.

“This strategic partnership enables Leeds United to align with and gain invaluable expertise from the owners of one of the biggest global sports entities,” said Radrizzani. “The 49ers are an innovative, successful organization and we are delighted to have access to such a rich source of business and sporting expertise. 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.”

In conjunction with the partnership, Paraag Marathe, President of 49ers Enterprises and Executive Vice President of Football Operations, has assumed a seat on the Leeds United Board of Directors.

“I am particularly pleased to welcome Paraag, to the Leeds United board,” said Radrizzani. “Paraag comes with a wealth of experience. We look forward to working with him and learning from his deep understanding of a sporting giant.”

For the last 18 years, Marathe has served in a number of strategic leadership roles for the 49ers, developing a significant track record in contract management and negotiations along with extensive involvement in the logistical and operational side of running a global sports organization.

“It is truly an honor to be invited to join the board of a football club as storied as Leeds United. I share the vision that Andrea has for returning Leeds United to greatness,” said Marathe, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. “I believe that the knowledge and experience we bring to the table combined with the hard work being done by Andrea and his talented team will make that vision a reality.”

Leeds United will also benefit from the business expertise of 49ers Enterprises in areas including ticketing strategies, sponsorship and commercial opportunities, stadium development, technology, retail and merchandising, and sport development and training.