Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani took to Twitter last night to dispute an article by the Daily Mail that claims that financial difficulty will force him to sell the club or sell players in order to balance the books.
The article cited unnamed sources as saying that the struggles of the UK arm of Radrizzani’s Eleven Sports, which has lost a number of exclusive streaming rights deals in the recent months, will force Radrizzani’s hand. The windfall from the Premier League is expected to bring close to £200 million, and it states that Radrizzani is “gambling” on getting that money to cover current shortfalls.
And who is the ones who are behind but seriously we don’t have time and energies for your mind games. We have more important daily biz to care in @ElevenSports (profitable and successful in most to the markets in 3.5 years!) and @LUFC . Good luck to sell few more papers— Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) February 25, 2019
https://t.co/iy2gIoGcrN You don’t really get it ...what doesn’t kill us make us stronger..Nothing will take us aways from our goals and kill our ambition.— Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) February 25, 2019
The article went on to claim that the amount of money that Marcelo Bielsa and his staff are being paid by Leeds is far, far above the rate that every other Championship team is paying, and seems to question the wisdom of paying that much money to the coach, despite the obvious increase in results with very little roster turnover.
Read the report by Phil Hay. Leeds were going to pay £1.5m loan fee in June, Swansea decided they wanted £750k up front, Leeds were willing to do just that, but Swansea wouldn't answer the phone.— MaltaWhite (@carl_bulger) February 1, 2019
The article also stated that the lack of investment in the January transfer window was because of a lack of available funds, although various stories from the sources near the club have stated that the Daniel James transfer from Swansea City was stalled because Swansea refused to finish the deal with James sitting at Elland Road, having already filmed him signing a contract and wearing a Leeds shirt.
The other significant transfer during the January transfer window was the acquisition of former Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla. While the exact contract details are not available, it is believed that Leeds bought out his Real Madrid contract, which would not have been cheap at all.
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
While the Casilla transfer was the only successful one made this January, Bielsa repeatedly said that he only wished for transfers in if the players could improve the team. Additionally, Leeds had already shed a number of contracts in the summer, after Bielsa had stated that the club had too many players on the roster and that he wanted a more compact squad, not a squad with too much depth and no place for those players to play. It’s not shocking that Leeds would only be interested in a couple players, and to cite the “lack of investment” as proof of financial difficulty seems to be a misreading of the actual events.
Radrizzani didn’t hesitate to criticise the motives of the Mail or the author of the piece, saying in his tweet that “we don’t have time and energ[y] for your mind games” and speculated that the article was an attack on both him and the club.
Leeds recently was given a significant fine for its role in sending club personnel to observe other teams train before matches, and while the conduct didn’t actually break any rules, the EFL ruled that it violated the charter agreement on acting with “good faith” towards other clubs.
Kinnear on Spygate: 'I know our fans spotted the clear inverse correlation between the level of mock outrage displayed by pundits and the quality of their playing careers' #lufc https://t.co/eyFnoe7LBJ— Joe Mewis (@joemewis) February 23, 2019
Leeds grudgingly accepted the fine, but in last weekend’s program, Leeds CEO Angus Kinnear took a shot at the pundits and the folks in the media who showed a lot of outrage about the “Spygate” saga, and that will have ruffled a lot of feathers and upset a number of people behind the scenes. It is curious timing that this story about a financial crisis comes only days after Kinnear’s statements.
Andrea Radrizzani is not a perfect owner, but in this day and age of football, he’s about as good as you could ask for. Unlike past owners, Radrizzani kept his word and bought Elland Road back from the landlord and generally has committed himself towards making Leeds United part of the greater Leeds community again, along with starting to redevelop some of the areas around the ground.
Last year’s new badge fiasco and the inexplicable trip to Myanmar not withstanding, Radrizzani’s time in charge has been pretty stable and there are plenty of other examples of bad or inept owners of football clubs. Radrizzani has stated in the past that he doesn’t see himself owning Leeds long-term without getting back into the Premier League, in part because of the economic model of the Championship. So while it wouldn’t be surprising to see Radrizzani sell the club, it’s likely not going to be forced upon him by the success or failure of Eleven Sports or even if Leeds are successfully promoted this season.
Radrizzani will sell if he feels he can make enough profit on his investment or if he decides he’s unwilling to suffer anymore losses, and it would be surprising to see him sell off at this point. However, if he does sell, it won’t be the end of the world, although it could be a lot worse.