Eleven Sports UK, the streaming service that is run by Andrea Radrizzani’s media company Eleven Sports, appears to be in significant financial trouble. It’s being reported that the UFC, a MMA competition based in the United States, has chosen to continue their relationship with BT Sport in the UK, meaning that the UK arm of Eleven Sports will need a serious injection of cash or subscribes to remain solvent.
The “UK arm” is the most important part of that statement about the future of Eleven Sports and any effect it will have on Leeds United, despite the doom and gloom that has seemed to accompany this announcement.
The fact is that Leeds United is not owned by Eleven Sports, nor is the fortunes of Eleven Sports directly tied to the financing of Leeds. Andrea Radrizzani might be the owner of Leeds and the chairman of Aser, the corporation that owns Eleven Sports and all of its arms, but the two accounts are not mixed in any fashion. If anything, the money that was borrowed to fund the Eleven Sports UK’s expansion might not get paid back to whatever lent the money to Eleven Sports UK, but beyond that, the other arms of Aser will likely not be impacted very much.
It is easy to get Leeds fans jumpy about finances of their owners, as Leeds are the biggest example of what can happen when a team owner loses their financial sanity and starts spending unwisely. However, the spending at Leeds has been conservative by Championship standards, as a great number of clubs have shelled out millions in transfer fees and wages, only to see their Premier League dreams die. For example, one might remember the fiasco involving Aston Villa last year or the dire Financial Fair Play straights that Sheffield Wednesday are reportedly in right now.
Leeds owner Radrizzani went so far as to defend the sale of young England U20 star Ronaldo Vieira to Serie A side Sampdoria as necessary to balance the books at the club. While fans weren’t exactly thrilled with the departure, it does seem that after the purchase of the club and Elland Road, that the transfer spending hasn’t been out of line, with Radrizzani instead choosing to invest in a superstar manager, former Chile and Argentina manager Marcelo Bielsa.
they'll sign a keeper, or at least they're looking to sign one. Judging by Bielsa's comments, can't imagine we'll see much else.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) December 11, 2018
The financial pressure for Leeds to get promoted to the Premier League has always existed, and “cash flow” problems might effect the January transfer window, but it’s sounded like Leeds weren’t planning on a spending spree anyway.
Leeds fans should still be a bit nervous, as it’s never a good thing to see businesses associated with the owner start getting in trouble. If more arms of Eleven Sports start to suffer, then it might be time to panic.