Leeds United fans got their wish; Andrea Radrizzani has agreed to sell his majority stake in the club to 49ers Enterprises.

It’s what the supporters unequivocally demanded in the wake of the club losing its Premier League status. The change in the ownership regime is the silver lining on the relegation dark cloud.

Supporters had become increasingly disillusioned with Radrizzani’s stewardship in recent months. They registered their displeasure with the Italian’s conduct in the immediate aftermath of defeat to Tottenham on the final day of the season to confirm the club’s relegation to the second tier.

Radrizzani had become estranged from the supporters lately, thanks to a series of unpopular decisions, most notably the axing of Marcelo Bielsa as manager. Many point to that development as the single biggest contributor to the club tail-spinning.

Admittedly, results could have been better. Still, many felt Radrizzani acted with indecent haste and that given more time Bielsa would have turned the ship around.

Clean slate

The takeover gives the 49ers a clean slate and an opportunity to put their stamp on the club and foster a new culture.

The new owners’ first order of business will be to appoint a new manager tasked with guiding the club back into the Premier League. The new hierarchy can go about that exercise with a unity of purpose absent during a power-sharing regime riddled with boardroom wrangling.

As details of the 49ers takeover emerge, it will be interesting to discover what it all means for the ownership of the club’s home. Radrizzani may no longer have a stake in Leeds United, but he still owns Elland Road Stadium in his personal capacity.

Irretrievably broken relationship

Radrizzani’s position at Leeds United, already shaky, became untenable after the reasons he missed the final day defeat at Elland Road to seal the club’s Premier League fate emerged. Apparently, the Italian was away putting the final touches on his new venture – acquiring a stake in Sampdoria.

The timing. It was rather crass, akin to a husband pursuing and lusting after another woman while his wife is on her sick bed fighting for her life.

The error of judgement gave credence to the argument that Radrizzani’s heart was no longer in it, hence the rapidity with which he found himself a new mistress, Sampdoria.

Making amends

By agreeing to sell, Radrizzani has somewhat redeemed himself in the eyes of the supporters. He has expiated for his sins by ceding control of the club to the 49ers without unnecessarily dragging out the process.

The new owners can now start articulating their vision for the club. The appointment of a new manager offers the earliest opportunity for making a statement of intent. The calibre of the manager will be a window into the 49ers reign. Never underestimate the importance of making a good first impression.

The Radrizzani legacy

Radrizzani will be fondly remembered as the man who shepherded Leeds United back into Premier League promised land after years in the wilderness. The club’s annals of history will reflect that he was part of the odyssey, aboard the roller-coaster ride with the fans.

The Italian will, in equal measure, be despised as the principal architect of the club’s top-flight demise. The situation that precipitated the club’s relegation obtained under his watch.

The good Radrizzani did will be remembered, but won’t excuse how he lost his way. It’s a pity how the Italian somehow contrived to sully his legacy and damage the rapport with supporters.

It’s the end of a supremely intriguing and exhilarating era and the start of a new chapter, a brave new world for my beloved club.

Goodbye Andrea Radrizzani, and thanks for the memories.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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