Andrea Radrizzani has acquired 50% of Leeds United to become joint owner after reaching an agreement with Massimo Cellino.
Talks between the two Italians began last May and represent the first step in Radrizzani reaching the end goal of becoming the sole owner of Leeds – perhaps by the end of this season.
Cellino has teased that he will leave the club on numerous occasions, notably reneging on talks he had with Leeds Fans United over a possible takeover, but nearing three years in charge he has now sold shares to Radrizzani’s Aser Group Holding.
A club statement posted on Leeds’ official website confirmed: “Leeds United Football Club today confirms the completion of an investment by Aser Group Holding, through it’s acquisition vehicle Greenfield Investment Pte Ltd, in 50 per cent of the Club’s share capital.”
Radrizzani, 42, expressed his pleasure at getting the deal over the line after months of haggling with Cellino over the value for a 50% stake, saying: “I am delighted and proud to have acquired a 50% stake in such a prestigious football club as Leeds United. I am excited by the challenge ahead and I will work alongside Massimo and everybody at the club to make Leeds United as successful as possible.
“I am fully aware of the great heritage and traditions of Leeds United and I will endeavour to be a fitting custodian on behalf of the many thousands of Leeds supporters, who are the lifeblood of the club.
“I am making a long-term commitment to Leeds United and will work to bring stability through ongoing investment. I aim to bring sustainable growth. I won’t do anything that will put the club’s future at risk,” the new investor said.
Radrizzani’s experience within sport derives from his running of MP & Silva, a media and rights holding agency which he sold last May for $1bn to Chinese investors looking to expand its influence in football. This came shortly before he opened talks with Cellino over his valuation of Leeds.
Among his immediate tasks in his new capacity, Radrizzani added reassuringly: “My immediate priorities over the coming weeks are to meet with Garry and the team; the Club staff at Elland Road and Thorp Arch; supporters’ representatives; former players and media.”
While the wealthy Italian also acknowledged the impact of Garry Monk on reversing the club’s prospects during his short time in charge.
“I am very impressed the job Garry Monk has done this season and I will do all I can to support him and the team moving forward,” said Radrizzani, who went co-founded MP & Silva in 2004 and built it into a worldwide industry leader.
“The responsibility is on myself, Massimo and the executive management at the Club to work together over the coming months to provide the best platform and environment for Garry and the team to achieve success.
The announcement eliminates any anxieties about how the club may perform behind the scenes with Massimo Cellino set to undertake a break away from Elland Road.
With an FA ban of 18 months set to be enacted in February for his role in breaching rules pertaining to agents fees when negotiating the sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham in 2014, Cellino is set to split his time between Italy and the USA.
Cellino said of the situation: “I have worked hard for the past three years for Leeds United, we are a massive club, and I feel the only way we can get better is for me to bring in a new partner.”
“I feel that bringing Andrea in as a 50% shareholder to work with me is the best choice we could have made. We will continue building a strong and healthy football club for the future.”