Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Leeds United ‘keep door open’ for Qatari investment

Paris Saint Germain’s Qatari owners have been courting talks with Leeds over past few years as club gears up for Premier League promotion

A stature of Marcelo Bielsa, manager of Leeds United, is seen in Leeds city centre as fans celebrate after winning the Sky Bet Championship title. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images
A stature of Marcelo Bielsa, manager of Leeds United, is seen in Leeds city centre as fans celebrate after winning the Sky Bet Championship title. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani revealed he will keep “the door open” for potential Qatari investment before the club’s return to England’s Premier League.

Qatari Sports Investment (QSI), which owns Paris Saint-Germain, has been in talks to buy the Yorkshire club, valued at more than £90 million (Dh427.1m) by its owners, over the past few years.

Qatar has showered the club recently with lavishly funded engagement programmes linked to the 2022 World Cup.

French media have reported that the club has also been in discussions over a lucrative £28m sponsorship shirt deal with Qatar Airways.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 19: Leeds United fans celebrate after winning the Sky Bet Championship title at Millennium Square on July 19, 2020 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 19: Leeds United fans celebrate after winning the Sky Bet Championship title at Millennium Square on July 19, 2020 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

If the significant investment happens, only Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham would earn more from their primary shirt sponsor than the newly promoted club.

Leeds secured promotion last week and on Sunday defeated rival Derby 3-1, the team that were responsible for destroying their hopes of a return to the Premier League a year ago, sealing their place at the top of the Championship.

On Monday, Mr Radrizzani set out his plans for the club going forward and said he has not yet made a deal with QSI but added that his “door is open”.

“We need support to build the club bigger than we could with our own resources,” he said.

Leeds United players and staff celebrate their victory after the Sky Bet Championship match at Pride Park, Derby. PA Photo. Issue date: Sunday July 19, 2020. See PA story SOCCER Derby. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Leeds United players and staff celebrate their victory after the Sky Bet Championship match at Pride Park, Derby. PA Photo. Issue date: Sunday July 19, 2020. See PA story SOCCER Derby. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

He reiterated his immediate plan is to stabilise the club for the next three years and to remain in the top flight, and immediate investment will come from his own company.

“The club is my priority. I want to be the leader and custodian,” he added.

Leeds is currently facing a loss in revenue of up to £40m because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past two years, two Qatar agencies have established partnerships with the side through their Fifa-backed 2022 legacy programmes.

Qatar’s Aspire Academy, which aims to develop and nurture players before the 2022 World Cup, announced in 2018 that it was linking up with Leeds.

Aspire played a large role in Qatar’s campaign to land the World Cup.

Last April, Leeds announced it was also forming a partnership with a second Qatari academy, Generation Amazing.

The general director of Aspire Academy in Qatar is Ivan Bravo, who was a director at Leeds United for more than two and a half years until he stepped down last October to “concentrate” on the World Cup.

Mr Bravo is also the technical director of the Qatar Football Association. PSG is also affiliated with the Aspire Academy.

Qatar does not own a British club but its investment arm QSI bought the leading French side PSG in 2011 and Belgium team KAS Eupen.

QSI has spent more than £800m on players for PSG, including £336m on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Mr Radrizzani has reportedly had many meetings with PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi to discuss the club.

Updated: July 20, 2020 07:45 PM

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