In a surprising turn of events, Leeds United is working tirelessly to return to the Premier League with the help of an unexpected source from across the pond. The team, which was recently relegated, has sold a minority stake in the club to Ackerley Partners, a Seattle-based holding company and venture capital firm that also owns a minority stake in the NHL’s Kraken.
The move marks another step in the Americanization of English football as 49ers Enterprises, the strategic investment arm of NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, completed its long-planned takeover of Leeds United in July. Since then, 49ers Enterprises has been overhauling the club’s functions, swiftly remaking the club’s board of directors and is considering whether to bring in another new investor.
Ackerley Partners is led by brothers Ted and Chris Ackerley. Their father, Barry Ackerley, owned the Seattle SuperSonics from 1983-2001 and co-founded the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. Leeds’ hopes for promotion are holding firm as the team is currently in third place in the EFL Championship, one point above the cut line, with wins in six of its last seven matches.
If Leeds is promoted back to the Premier League, it would bring significantly more sponsorship and broadcast income. With annual media revenue projected to be more than $125 million per club. Additionally, Leeds is one of three recently relegated teams preparing a lawsuit against Everton for violations of profitability and financial sustainability rules which would result in unprecedented Premier League penalties if successful.