Leeds United, a team that has recently been relegated from the Premier League, is currently competing in the EFL Championship and is working hard to regain its place in the top flight. To help achieve this goal, the team has sold a minority stake in the club to Ackerley Partners, a holding company and venture capital firm based in Seattle, USA. This new capital will be used to improve both the commercial and football operations of the club.
The move represents another step in the Americanization of English football as 49ers Enterprises, an investment arm of NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, completed its takeover of Leeds United in July. Since then, 49ers Enterprises has been overhauling the club’s functions and is considering bringing in another new investor.
Ackerley Partners is led by brothers Ted and Chris Ackerley. Their father, Barry Ackerley, was previously owner of Seattle SuperSonics from 1983-2001 and co-founded WNBA’s Seattle Storm. The team’s hopes for promotion remain strong as they are currently sitting in third place in the EFL Championship with wins in six out of their last seven matches.
If Leeds were to be promoted back to the Premier League, it would bring significantly more sponsorship and broadcast income. The annual media revenue is projected to be over $125 million per club. Additionally, Leeds United is one of three recently relegated teams preparing a lawsuit against Everton for violations of profitability and financial sustainability rules which could result in unprecedented Premier League penalties.