I’m trying to curb my excitement about the reported implications of Andrea Radrizzani’s purchase of Sampdoria for his stake in Leeds United.

Amid the swirling speculation, the emerging consensus is that Radrizzani’s acquisition of the Serie A dropouts will precipitate his departure from Elland Road.

It’s been widely reported throughout the season that Leeds United’s majority shareholder was amenable to the idea of selling his stake in the club to co-owners 49ers Enterprises. Indeed, an agreement in principle is believed to have been reached paving the way for a 49ers takeover in the event the club retained its Premier League status. However, it is not clear what the status of that agreement is in the wake of the club’s relegation.

If Radrizzani’s roving eye hastens his divorce from Leeds United, that of course would be a good thing for the club, not because I prefer the 49ers over the Italian, but because single ownership means no competing agendas and less boardroom wrangles.

But Radrizzani’s buy-out of Sampdoria could also simply mean that he is looking to expand his portfolio of sports clubs. After all, that is what sports business entrepreneurs do.

Sampdoria, relegated from Serie A and teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, represent the perfect opportunity for Radrizzani to grow his sports business. So, the Sampdoria purchase may therefore not be the Leeds United exit route for Radrizzani that it is being touted as in some quarters.

In the age of sports entrepreneurship and multiple ownership of sports clubs, there is nothing to stop Radrizzani from buying a stake in Sampdoria while retaining his ownership of Leeds United. That would mean the Italian spreading himself thin between the two relegated clubs.

Indeed, Radrizzani will reportedly not be the sole owner of Sampdoria. Paris Saint-Germain owners, Qatar Sports Investments, and others, are said to be part of the joint venture. Would the Sampdoria buy-out in the guise being reported be an attractive enough project to persuade Radrizzani to call time on his Leeds United involvement?

The average Leeds United fan’s preferred narrative is that Radrizzani’s move for Sampdoria improves prospects for a 49ers takeover of Leeds United. I can understand why fans would favour and welcome that by-product. A divided boardroom is not good for any football club, especially where co-owners have competing agendas and often engage in some horse-trading to keep each other happy, but to the detriment of the club.

Elland Road subplot

The ripple effects of Radrizzani’s Sampdoria venture could be far reaching. Reports claim the Italian sought to use Elland Road as collateral to secure an Italian bank loan to finance his Sampdoria buy-out.

What would that mean for Leeds United’s home, currently owned by Radrizzani himself, not by the club.

The 49ers’ lofty ambitions?

The other subplot in the story is that once in full control the 49ers would initiate an ambitious project, with the appointment of a high-profile manager to guide the club back into the Premier League as an early statement of intent.

Brendan Rodgers and Graham Potter’s names are being mentioned as potential candidates.

The pair’s dismissals from their last jobs has done little to diminish their attractiveness to top-flight clubs at home and abroad. Indeed, they are both being linked with jobs in the Premier League, with the likes of Tottenham and Crystal Palace, among others, credited with genuine interest.

It would be a coup of note if Leeds United managed to convince either candidate to turn down a Premier League job in favour of presiding over an ambitious project in the Championship.

An ownership regime change at Elland Road could just be the new energy Leeds United need ahead of life in the second tier.

Leeds United, how do I love thee!


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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