The Qatari owners of PSG are determined to push through a deal to buy into Leeds this summer – whatever size of stake that may be – despite the Championship side looking to dampen claims of a wholesale takeover.
Reports on Monday claimed Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani had met with Qatar Sports Investments chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi to discuss selling a stake in the club.
Radrizzani did meet this week with Al-Khelaifi, who is a good friend and associate of the Italian and also president of PSG, but it seems the Yorkshire side are standing by their initial statement that the club, at this time, is not for sale.
But while Leeds United, as an entity, are not for sale, the ambitious promotion-hunting Yorkshire side have been approached by half a dozen interested parties this summer and Radrizzani would consider the right investment offer.
A possible future partnership with QSI has not been ruled out, and Wednesday’s L’Equipe – which reported on the meeting this week between Al-Khelaifi and Radrizzani – has provided more details on the potential link-up.
They claim talks over a potential deal between the parties have been ongoing for several months and that this was accelerated once Leeds were beaten by Derby in the play-off semi-finals and their place in the Championship for another season was confirmed.
Furthermore, the French paper claims QSI and Al-Khelaifi are attracted by Leeds for two major reasons: firstly, they believe buying into a Championship club with the potential for promotion would be more lucrative than buying into a current Premier League club.
And secondly, L’Equipe claims Al-Khelaifi’s friendship with Radrizzani – the duo have known each for years – should help make buying into Leeds far more simpler than starting afresh at another club.
Al-Khelaifi, the boss of Qatari TV channel BeIN Sports, and Radrizzani have been friends for several years after negotiating television rights deals when the Italian owned sports media agency MP & Silva, which he co-founded and has since sold.
Either way, it seems QSI are serious in their attempts to buy into United and further talks are expected before any agreement can be reached.
L’Equipe are already giving coverage to the prospect of PSG youngsters moving to Leeds United on loan, as PSG look to further grease Radrizzani’s palms over a potential deal. That is also one of the factors Al-Khelaifi will discuss with Marcelo Bielsa too if, as reported, the two men will meet later this week.
One thing that looks certain at this stage, however, is that Radrizzani will remain at Leeds into the 2019/20 season. The Italian made clear his intentions to “have another go” at promotion when Leeds announced last month that Bielsa had agreed to extend his contract for a further season.
Radrizzani currently owns 85% of Leeds, with a reported 11 per cent stake sold to 49ers Enterprises – owners of the San Francisco 49ers – last year, while a small portion of minor shareholders have the remaining 4%.
But the funding from QSI – although bound by FFP and not likely to guarantee to give Leeds an unlimited cash windfall – will provide the club with a significant boost. They are funded by the oil-rich state of Qatar, completed their takeover of French champions PSG in 2011 and have transformed them into one of the world’s wealthiest clubs.
PSG signed Neymar from Barcelona for a world record £200million fee in 2017 and Kylian Mbappe has since joined from Monaco for £166m.
Meanwhile, Leeds have confirmed chief executive officer Angus Kinnear’s appointment as the independent chairman of the board for British Weight Lifting will have no impact on his role at Elland Road.
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