What is the endgame for the San Francisco 49ers as far as Leeds United goes?

What is the endgame for the San Francisco 49ers as far as Leeds United goes?

When Leeds United announced a strategic partnership with the San Francisco 49ers seven years ago, the club was miles off the big time. Indeed, languishing in the bottom half of the Championship – American football’s equivalent to the minor league – and barely treading water, Leeds had become the nation’s laughing stock given how far they had fallen. The West Yorkshire side had enjoyed a glittering history in English football up until 2004 when they began to drop down the leagues due to crippling debts. Needless to say, when the 49ers arrived on the scene in 2014, not much had changed, Leeds were still in a shambolic state.

This is perhaps why the 49ers didn’t invest in the soccer club straight away but instead chose to rather hang on until there was a change of direction in the way the wind was blowing in West Yorkshire. In fact, the partnership seemed to go dormant after a while to the degree that most people had forgotten that a business relationship had been struck up. That was until 2018 when Leeds began to wake from their slumber by almost achieving promotion from the Championship to the Premier League thanks to the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds would narrowly miss out in the play-offs against a fortunate Derby side but that didn’t matter to the 49ers, their interest was sufficiently piqued and they finally opened the cheque book to buy a 15% stake in the club. Indeed, Leeds had finally shown the initiative to achieve promotion which would earn the club £170 million if they managed to do it, it’s no wonder the 49ers had sat up and were now completely invested in what was going on at Elland Road.

Leeds finally did end their hiatus in the minor leagues in 2020 by achieving promotion to the English top flight which meant they returned to the big time after 16 years in the wilderness. Subsequently, the 49ers received a windfall of money and became even more active by increasing their stake, fast forward to the present day and the San Francisco NFL franchise now owns 37% of Leeds United.

You do begin to wonder after having a taste of the untold riches in the Premier League if the 49ers intend to buy a controlling stake or even take over the ownership in its entirety.

Whatever ends up happening, it shouldn’t affect their commitment to their NFL side, even if a Super Bowl win looks almost impossible at 80/1 in the latest American football odds. On the contrary, the 49ers are one of the most valuable teams in the NFL and will continue to produce a higher profit than any Premier League team.

But that doesn’t mean that the 49ers won’t fancy the idea of owning Leeds United outright and with the current direction of travel, you’d think that Leeds’ long-term owners are in San Francisco and not the Middle East, as had previously suggested.

So far it has been a successful and lucrative collaboration and you get the distinct impression that both parties are just at the beginning of their relationship.