Friday 11 September 2020 3:45 pm

Leeds United owner targets £1bn valuation as club returns to Premier League

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has revealed he wants the football club to be worth as much as £1bn within the next five years and is also willing to sell a minority stake to the right party.

The club were promoted to the Premier League last season, but despite having yet to kick a ball this season – their campaign begins against champions Liverpool on Saturday – Radrizzani already has his sights set higher than just staying in the top flight.

“The target in five years is to be behind the ‘Big Six’”, he told the Financial Times. “If we get there in terms of sports results and we have a very solid business . . . then we can be [worth] in the region of £600m-£1bn.”

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Radrizzani took over the club in 2017, appointing Argentine Marcelo Bielsa as manager a year later. Promotion at Bielsa’s second attempt marked the end of a 16-year absence from the Premier League and subject to “consolidating” its position this season, the owner remains bullish about the club’s long-term prospects.

The Italian, who also owns broadcaster Eleven Sports, told the FT that investors were lining up to back his plans for Leeds.

He said he was willing to sell a minority stake in the club for between £270m and £300m, adding he has rejected takeover offers in recent weeks.

The investment arm of NFL franchise San Francisco 49ers has said it is willing to increase its 10 per cent stake acquired in 2018, while Qatar Sports Investments, which owns Paris Saint-Germain, has also held talks with Radrizzani. 

“The 49ers are interested, Qatar is interested, there are other parties interested,” said Radrizzani. “It’s more important to have a shared vision and strategy, that they are comfortable with what I want to build and achieve.”

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The club can expect to make £100m in revenue this season, largely thanks to broadcast deals. But a lack of fans at its 38,000-seater stadium has already caused losses of almost £40m, he said.

This has been somewhat offset by a new shirt sponsor deal with betting firm SBOTOP, worth £10m for this season.

Leeds are also looking to complete a factoring deal to raise a further £30m-£50m, according to the FT, which would see it borrow money against its future broadcast income.