Leeds United: 49ers Enterprises not interested in takeover despite investment

Paraag Marathe
Paraag Marathe has an extensive experience of sporting culture from 18 years at NFL side San Francisco 49ers

Minority investors 49ers Enterprises have no interest in taking over Leeds United from current majority owners Aser, says director Paraag Marathe.

The investment entity purchased a reported 10% of Leeds' shareholding from chairman Andrea Radrizzani in May.

Marathe, the vice president of football operations at National Football League side San Francisco 49ers, is keen to share knowledge and best practice.

"We're just trying to apply expertise," Marathe told BBC Radio Leeds.

"The past has been chequered with examples of foreign owners or investors coming in, not being involved or having an interest but doing it 'just because', or coming over and trying to take everything over.

"We don't have intentions for either one of those, we're just trying to help Andrea [Radrizzani], Angus [Kinnear - managing director], Victor [Orta - director of football] and coach Marcelo [Bielsa], getting everyone on the same page to help them get promoted.

"This isn't a casual hands-off, nor trying to take over - we're offering assistance."

There are comparisons to be made between Leeds and the 49ers, both of whom remain strong brands with strong fan-bases and rich histories.

While Leeds' glory days came under Don Revie in the late sixties and early seventies with league championships, domestic honours and European success, San Francisco were a force under Bill Walsh's guidance in the 1980s with three of their five Super Bowl successes in his tenure.

Marathe was involved in the appointment of Jim Harbaugh, who in 2012 brought San Francisco to a first Super Bowl in 18 years; a critical move in re-establishing the club as a major force.

Leeds' own bid to reignite their fortunes came in the high profile appointment of Argentine boss Marcelo Bielsa this summer.

The 63-year-old has coached in Spain, Italy, his native country and France as well as at international level with Chile.

"Bielsa has a great deal of respect among the global soccer fan," Marathe added.

"It's important because the first step of getting a club back to where they belong is rebooting and rebuilding the culture, and to get the true culture shift you need a force of nature type to help press the reset button."

Who is Paraag Marathe?

Marathe is involved with the 49ers Enterprises as president, but is also executive vice-president of football operations with the Forty Niners Football Company LLC.

His role with the football side of the business relates to recruitment and retention of players, contract negotiations and ensuring the club meets NFL salary cap regulations and adheres to the league's collective bargaining agreement.

Away from the sporting side, Marathe oversaw the move from their old Candlestick Park venue to the current stadium and has been involved in staging non-American football events there, such as WWE wrestling and international football.

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