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Leeds United’s Changing of the Guard: Big things to come with Andrea Radrizzani

Andrea Radrizzani’s takeover has heralded in a renewed sense of optimism at Elland Road this week, but it’s his long-term impact that matters.

Liverpool v Leeds United - EFL Cup - Quarter Final - Anfield
Time to let the big boys handle this one, Massimo.
Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

As James noted on the blog on Thursday, there is a renewed sense of optimism around Elland Road. Andrea Radrizzani is finally in control and the past 48 hours have felt like the resetting of a football club, a clean slate if you will. Massimo Cellino’s era appears over and the collective is boisterous at the thought of waving goodbye to the man who has stumbled through three years of ownership.

Such visceral responses speak more, initially anyways, to the turbulent nature of Cellino’s stewardship than anything about the new man. We have all felt it, we have all seen it. Cellino was supposed to be the one who retuned us to the halcyon days.

He proved to be anything but, and instead festered a black cloud that has hovered over the football club. In just one press release, plus a few politically scripted words, the weather has cleared and brightness has retuned.

New ownership always heralds in a renewed sense of positivity, but the injection of Radrizzani into United feels even more pronounced.

For all his faults, Cellino has enjoyed the best stint of his ownership during the past six months. The bar was low, very low, but hiring Monk and stepping out of the way is a parting gift which overstates his impact on the football club.

This season returned hope to the life of every fan and it also made the football club a tremendous investment opportunity. If Leeds United were listed on a global stock exchange, it would certainly be trending up.

In many ways, that makes Radrizzani the brash venture capitalist seeking to turn a booming prospect into his meal ticket, an accomplishment he has already achieved in another industry. “Radz” will no doubt recognise the countless profit-making opportunities at the club that have been negligently mishandled by Cellino, the recent sell outs being proof of a decade-long disconnect.

Radrizzani garnered his wealth by building one of the 21st century’s most entreprenial media empires. He co-founded MP & Silva in 2004, a company that now has annual turnover in excess of $600 million USD. Eleven years later, he brokered a deal to sell 65 percent of the company to Everbright Securities, a leading Chinese investment group, for over $1 billion. He built a start up company into a billion dollar business! That is the equivalent of Leeds United winning the Premier League, Champions League and three FA Cups in the next 11 years under Radrizzani. (Stop dreaming!)

The riches of the Premier League are closer than they have been at any point his decade – United has not been so highly placed in the Championship after 25 games since 2006. And that makes Radrizzani appear like the perfect fit. He has experience building organisations, and logic says he has the money.

United has the ardour to achieve something special; it just needs more funding to round out the squad and make itself truly deserving of the Premier League (on the pitch that is). Andrea Radrizzani meet Leeds United, supply meet demand. It all appears too good to be true.

There is an obvious requirement for investment into the playing roster. Kyle Bartley, Pontus Jansson and Pablo Hernandez have revitalised the squad under Monk, but they are not yet owned by United. Monk is only on a one-year rolling contract. All four of these men need to become permanent members of the United family and this will require some capital.

Radrizzani praised Monk in his press release and the support appears to be unwavering, as it should be. “I’m very impressed with the job Garry has done this season,” Radrizzani said. The two will meet over the coming days and hopefully begin a prosperous relationship just as the transfer window heats up. High profile names are flying around the interwebs, but that all means nothing without the owners opening their wallet, because yes, two owners remain.

Despite the high likelihood of Cellino being finished at United with his 18-month suspension looming, he still owns 50 percent of the club. How will he and Radrizzani divide supremacy? This may seem like a formality, but with Cellino nothing can be counted upon: that mistake has been made too many times. Looking at a half-full glass and assuming Cellino does bow out gracefully, the issue then is how far Radrizzani’s money can take United. What volume of money can he actually bring to the table?

"I am making a long-term commitment to Leeds United and will work to bring stability through ongoing investment,” Radrizzani noted. “I aim to bring sustainable growth. I won't do anything that will put the Club's future at risk.” This is the perfect message. Sustained success and long term devotion to the cause; these are the catchphrases every fan wants to hear. Hopefully, Radrizzani can deliver on his promise.

It took over six months for Radrizzani to come to terms with Cellino, yet his words present the persona of a man who will happily take his time to get the job done right.

Radrizzani has the public record of a man who will not settle for merely reaching the Premier League. He even speaks like a man who is shackling himself to the front gate of Elland Road.

Hopefully, he has the necessary cocktail of skill, patience and means to pull it off. MOT.