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Leeds United: EFL approves £170m takeover by 49ers Enterprises

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Leeds United are now owned by 49ers Enterprises after the English Football League formally approved their £170m takeover of the Championship club.

The investment arm of the San Francisco 49ers purchased a 15% stake in Leeds in 2018 and increased that to 44% in 2021.

They now have full control after announcing the purchase of Andrea Radrizzani’s share.

“This transition is a necessary reset to chart a new course for the club,” said new chairman Paraag Marathe.

“This is an important moment for Leeds United and we are already hard at work. We are confident Leeds will field a competitive squad to contend for promotion next season.”

Leeds also confirmed that existing chief executive Angus Kinnear will remain in his current position while entrepreneur Rudy Cline-Thomas, founder and managing partner of venture capital firm Mastry, will join the board as co-owner and vice chairman.

“49ers Enterprises is bringing fresh leadership, management and a commitment to investment, which I’m confident will meet our ambition to compete for promotion and remain in the top flight as an established Premier League Club,” Kinnear said.

“I know Paraag, Rudy and 49ers Enterprises will keep supporters central to their plans during their custodianship and I am excited to work in realising the true potential of this great club.”

Cline-Thomas added: “With my family hailing from Leeds, it’s an honour to be able to uplift this incredible community. This is more than just an opportunity, it’s a personal mission.

“The chance to reinvigorate the cherished Leeds culture, to create a platform that attracts the world’s finest players and build a truly global brand that celebrates diversity is a prospect that thrills me.”

‘They will take Leeds to the next level’
Radrizzani bought Leeds outright for £45m in 2017 but his stake had reduced to 56% by the time he sold up and claimed that the new custodians would move the club forward.

“It has been an honour to guide Leeds United over the last six years and to spend so much time with the best fanbase in the world,” the 48-year-old said.

“49ers Enterprises have been fantastic partners for years and I’m confident they will take Leeds to the next level.”

Radrizzani had initially been popular with Leeds fans, with manager Marcelo Bielsa taking them back into the Premier League.

But the relationship soured after he sacked the Argentine and he did not attend their final game of last season, a defeat by Tottenham which sealed their relegation while fans chanted for him to leave.

After relegation was confirmed, the Leeds United Supporters Club released a statement saying Radrizzani was “no longer an appropriate person to own Leeds United”.

“His behaviour is appalling and he risks never being welcome at our club again,” it added.”The sooner he goes the better and we look forward to the 49ers Enterprises offer being accepted. The only way he can begin to salvage his reputation is through an immediate sale of the club and the stadium.”

Radrizzani’s Aser Holding Company recently bought a stake in Italian side Sampdoria.

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Euro 2024

All you need to know about Euro 2024

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Held in Germany, Euro 2024 will officially begin on Friday, 14 June 2024 at the Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich. Scotland will be the

BBC Sport provides the lowdown on all the key details for Euro 2024.

When will the tournament start?
Held in Germany, Euro 2024 will officially begin on Friday, 14 June 2024 at the Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich. Scotland will be the team facing the hosts in the first match to kick off the tournament.

It will continue for a month and conclude on Sunday, 14 July at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

This will be the first time that Germany has hosted the tournament since reunification, with the 1988 edition held in West Germany.

Who are the favourites?

At the time of writing, England are favourites at 7/2 and France 4/1 with the bookmakers, while hosts Germany are 5/1.

The next closest is Spain at 8/1, while Scotland are 100/1 to go all the way.

What are the groups?
Group A: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland

Group B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania

Group C: Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, England

Group D: Poland, Netherlands, Austria, France

Group E: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine

Group F: Turkey, Georgia, Portugal, Czech Republic

What is the format?
The format will be the same as for Euro 2020.

The top two teams in each group will progress to the round of 16, along with the four best third-placed finishers.

How can I watch it?
BBC and ITV will share broadcasting coverage of Euro 2024 in the UK, following the pattern that was in place for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and previous European Championships.

Where are England and Scotland going to be playing?
England’s group-stage matches: 16 June v Serbia in Gelsenkirchen (20:00 BST), 20 June v Denmark in Frankfurt (17:00 BST), 25 June v Slovenia in Cologne (20:00 BST).

Who could they meet in the knockouts?
If England top Group C, they will face one of the third-placed teams from Group D, E or F in the last 16.

The Three Lions would face the winner of Group A in the last 16 if they finish second in the group.

If Scotland top Group A they’ll face the second-placed team from Group C, so one of England, Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia.

Should Steve Clarke’s side finish second, they’ll face the second-placed team from Group B, so one of Spain, Albania, Croatia and Italy.

Both sides could also progress as one of the four best third-placed teams in the group stage.

Who are the form teams?
Coming into the tournament, six teams were unbeaten during qualifying – France, England, Portugal, Belgium, Romania and Hungary.

Portugal are the only side who won every match, ending qualifying having scored 36 goals and conceding only two.

Spain and Scotland lost only one match, while Turkey and Austria also qualified with equally impressive records.

Despite Portugal winning every single qualifying match, they did not have the top goalscorer across these games. That was Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku, who notched 14 goals in eight matches for Belgium.

Which stadiums might we see?

The aforementioned Allianz Arena and Olympiastadion will both be seen throughout the tournament but there are 10 host cities in total, including Cologne and Dortmund.

Signal Iduna Park, home of Borussia Dortmund’s ‘yellow wall’, will host matches in Groups B, D and F, while also being selected as one of the venues for the last 16 and the semi-finals.

Here is the full list of venues for the tournament:

Berlin: Olympiastadion (70,000 capacity)

Cologne: Cologne Stadium (47,000),

Dortmund: BVB Stadion Dortmund (66,000)

Dusseldorf: Dusseldorf Arena (47,000)

Frankfurt: Frankfurt Arena (48,000)

Gelsenkirchen: Arena AufSchalke (50,000)

Hamburg: Volksparkstadion Hamburg (50,000)

Leipzig: Leipzig Stadium (42,000)

Munich: Munich Football Arena (67,000)

Stuttgart: Stuttgart Arena (54,000)

Are there any key omissions?
Manchester City forward Erling Haaland and Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard will play no part in the competition in the summer as Norway failed to qualify.

In the same group as Spain and Scotland, they didn’t accumulate enough points to gain an automatic spot and cannot qualify via the play-offs either.

Sweden are another notable nation that will not play a part in Germany, failing to qualify for the first time since 1996.

When are the Euro 2024 fixtures?
Friday, 14 June

Germany v Scotland (20:00 – Group A)

Saturday, 15 June

Hungary v Switzerland (14:00 – Group A)

Spain v Croatia (17:00 – Group B)

Italy v Albania (20:00 – Group B)

Sunday, 16 June

Poland v Netherlands (14:00 – Group D)

Slovenia v Denmark (17:00 – Group C)

Serbia v England (20:00 – Group C)

Monday, 17 June

Romania v Ukraine (14:00 – Group E)

Belgium v Slovakia (17:00 – Group E)

Austria v France (20:00 – Group D)

Tuesday, 18 June

Turkey v Georgia (17:00 – Group F)

Portugal v Czech Republic (20:00 – Group F)

Wednesday, 19 June

Croatia v Albania (14:00 – Group B)

Germany v Hungary (17:00 – Group A)

Scotland v Switzerland (20:00 – Group A)

Thursday, 20 June

Slovenia v Serbia (14:00 – Group C)

Denmark v England (17:00 – Group C)

Spain v Italy (20:00 – Group B)

Friday, 21 June

Slovakia v Ukraine (14:00 – Group E)

Poland v Austria (17:00 – Group D)

Netherland v France (20:00 – Group D)

Saturday, 22 June

Georgia v Czech Republic (14:00 – Group F)

Turkey v Portugal (17:00 – Group F)

Belgium v Romania (20:00 – Group E)

Sunday, 23 June

Scotland v Hungary (20:00 – Group A)

Switzerland v Germany (20:00 – Group A)

Monday, 24 June

Albania v Spain (20:00 – Group B)

Croatia v Italy (20:00 – Group B)

Tuesday, 25 June

France v Poland (17:00 – Group D)

Netherlands v Austria (17:00 – Group D)

Denmark v Serbia (20:00 – Group C)

England v Slovenia (20:00 – Group C)

Wednesday, 26 June

Slovakia v Romania (17:00 – Group E)

Ukraine v Belgium (17:00 – Group E)

Czech Republic v Turkey (20:00 – Group F)

Georgia v Portugal (20:00 – Group F)

 

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Euro 2024

Dutch call up Maatsen as De Jong, Koopmeiners out

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Netherlands and Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been ruled out of this summer's European Championship through injury.

Netherlands and Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been ruled out of this summer’s European Championship through injury.

De Jong, 27, played just three times for his club after suffering an ankle injury in March.

He was included in Ronald Koeman’s Euro 2024 squad despite struggling with his recovery, but has been forced to pull out of the tournament.

On Tuesday, Atalanta midfielder Teun Koopmeiners was also ruled out after injuring himself in the warm-up before the Netherlands’ 4-0 friendly win against Iceland on Monday evening.

The 26-year-old, who has 21 caps, played 51 games for Atalanta last season as they won the Europa League and finished fourth in Serie A.

Chelsea defender Ian Maatsen, 22, who spent last season on loan at Borussia Dortmund, has been added to the Dutch squad and was travelling to join them in Wolfsburg.

The Netherlands begin their Euros campaign on Sunday when they play Poland in Group D at 14:00 BST, while they also face France and Austria in the group stage.

De Jong has played 54 times for his country, scoring twice.

 

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Euro 2024

From Water Carrier To Serial Winner – Deschamps Seeks More History

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Longevity is a rare gift in football management, but Didier Deschamps has certainly been afforded that as France coach. The 55-year-old has

Longevity is a rare gift in football management, but Didier Deschamps has certainly been afforded that as France coach.

The 55-year-old has been in charge since 2012 and in that time he has led his country to three out of five possible finals and won one World Cup.

That success in 2018 meant he joined a select few who have won a world title both as a manager and a player, and this summer he has the chance to make more history.

Should he lead France to glory in Germany, he will become only the second person to win a European Championship as both a player and a manager, after German Berti Vogts, and the first to have achieved the ‘double double’

Not bad for someone who was once dismissed as a “water carrier”.

From ‘water carrier’ to serial winner
Didier Deschamps captained Marseille to the 1993 Champions League when he was 24

Deschamps’ career both as a player and an international manager stands among the best.

Widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders of his generation, the former Marseille, Juventus and Chelsea player won two French league titles, three Serie A championships, and two Champions League trophies.

His unglamorous yet key role was famously described as that of “a water carrier” by his former France team-mate Eric Cantona, who suggested his role was simple – win the ball then give it to more creative team-mates.

“Deschamps gets by because he gives 100%, but he’ll never be anything more than a water carrier,” Cantona said in an interview in 1996.

“You find players like him on every street corner.”

Deschamps could not resist a retort. “How many players can you find on street corners who have won two European Cups?” he replied.

But in the main he did his talking on the pitch.

A natural leader, he became the youngest captain to lift the Champions League with Marseille in 1993 then led his country to World Cup success five years later.

Former France defender Lilian Thuram, who was Deschamps’ team-mate in that 1998 win, told BBC Sport: “Deschamps, the captain, he was the one who led the way. He was a true leader of that team.

“Knowing him then, you can see how he became a manager and won the World Cup, because he had that drive within him.”

Management a natural next step
Didier Deschamps is now in his 12th year as France manager

When Deschamps retired from playing in 2001, moving into management seemed the sensible progression for someone praised throughout his career for his leadership skills.

He had spells in charge of Monaco, Juventus and Marseille before becoming France manager in 2012.

His arrival came two years after a catastrophic World Cup in 2010 for Les Bleus under Raymond Domenech.

The France squad was fractured, with players refusing to train in protest at the French Football Federation’s decision to send home striker Nicolas Anelka after he argued with Domenech.

Unity was something Deschamps emphasised above all else when he took charge and he soon fashioned a cohesive side that once again was a force at major tournaments.

They reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, losing to eventual winners Germany, and made the final of Euro 2016, which they hosted, but were beaten 1-0 by Portugal.

The upward trend continued, though, as France triumphed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

A crucial moment in that success came after they beat Argentina 4-3 in a thrilling last-16 match.

Afterwards, some of the players had gone out and were noisy on their return, waking up those sleeping when defender Adil Rami sprayed a fire extinguisher in the hotel corridor.

Philippe Tournon, France’s press officer at the time, told the BBC documentary ‘How To Win The World Cup’ that Deschamps’ response highlighted his man-management skills.

“My room was next to Didier’s and I thought he was ready to tear them apart,” he said.

“Didier had a word and, with his sixth sense of his relationship with the players and the unity of the group, told me ‘if I lay into them it might break something we’ve been building for five or six weeks’.”

Deschamps, of course, is not flawless and after they were knocked out of Euro 2020 in the last 16 by Switzerland he was criticised for getting his tactics and team selections wrong.

He responded to the critics and doubters by leading France to their second successive World Cup final in Qatar two years later, where they were beaten on penalties by Argentina after a thrilling 3-3 draw.

One last chance for European glory as a coach?
Deschamps won the European Championship as a player in 2000, which is the last time France won the tournament

During that World Cup run, Deschamps was again praised by those who played for him.

“Our coach believes in us being a group, being a team,” striker Antoine Griezmann said.

“We’re a group that lives well together. I see it in training, too. Everyone gives 100 per cent and we have the perfect set-up to take us as far as possible.”

The French Football Federation agreed, rewarded Deschamps with a new contract to keep him in charge of France until the 2026 World Cup.

France are among the favourites to triumph in Germany and lift their first European Championship in 24 years.

Should they succeed, the “water carrier” will have earned the right to be considered arguably the greatest international manager of all time.

-BBC

 

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