Aser, the parent company of second-tier English soccer club Leeds United, has announced a strategic partnership with 49ers Enterprises that sees the latter become a minority owner of the Championship team.
The equity deal is reportedly valued at UK£10 million (US$13.4 million) and gives 49ers Enterprises just over a 10 per cent stake in the club.
Paraag Marathe, 40, president of 49ers Enterprises, an investment entity affiliated with the National Football League’s (NFL) San Francisco 49ers, and executive vice president of football operations at the franchise, has assumed a seat on the Leeds board of directors.
Andrea Radrizzani will retain overall control and remain as club chairman, with Marathe becoming the fifth member of the board of directors alongside Radrizzani, Angus Kinnear, Ivan Bravo and Andre Tegner.
Radrizzani has committed to keeping the new funds invested in the club and to go towards investment in the first team squad.
“This strategic partnership enables Aser and 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 organisation 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 the team on the pitch.
“I am particularly pleased to welcome Paraag to the Leeds United board. Paraag comes with a wealth of experience. We look forward to working with him and learning from his deep understanding of a sporting giant.”
The new wider business alliance formed between Aser and 49ers Enterprises sees Leeds benefit from the experience and collective network of the two entities in the sports and business worlds. That expertise is in areas including ticketing strategies, sponsorship and commercial opportunities, stadium development, technology, retail and merchandising, and sport development and training.
For their part the 49ers will aim to leverage Aser’s know-how in sports and media, content expertise, distribution, and leverage its broader network across several global markets.
Marathe has served in a number of strategic leadership roles for the 49ers over the last 18 years, 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 organisation.
“It is truly an honour 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 the San Francisco Bay Area-native.
“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.”