Leeds United had a spectacular fall from grace after making the semifinals of the 2000/01 Champions League. The side fell as low as League One, the third division of English soccer, and are looking to an unlikely source for help returning to the Premier League…the San Francisco 49’ers.
The 5-time Super Bowl winners will send a delegation of senior management to advise on the best ways to improve their business model.
“The 49ers are very excited about the prospect of partnering with Leeds United, a club with an international following as well as great history and tradition,” Paraag Marathe, Chief Operating Officer of the 49ers, told the Telegraph. “We look forward to sharing best practices with Leeds United and providing them with our perspective on the sports industry. This is an exciting opportunity for us to link up with an English football club and learn from each other.”
And it is hard to see how this could not help. The demise of The Whites was largely due to mismanagement. After making it to the Champions League semifinal, the team and in particular chairman Peter Ridsdale took out large loans expecting to qualify for subsequent Champions League. The plan was to service the loans through the TV and sponsorship revenues from qualifying for Europe’s top tournament.
But Leeds failed to qualify for the next 2 Champions League tournaments and then somehow despite a talent rich side were relegated to the Championship and eventually to League One.
The Yorkshire club won promotion back to the Championship after the 2009/10 season and are now focused on winning their spot back in the Premier League.
Leeds United are probably most familiar to U.S. soccer fans as the former team of Robbie Rogers. The current Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder was playing with Leeds immediately prior to retiring and coming out as gay.
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