July 15, 2024

Leeds United work starts on £200million 49ers plan to close gap on Tottenham

The 49ers have already got started at Leeds United with the plan to develop Elland Road, which is set to cost £200million, the Daily Mail reports.

The Whites’ home ground, subject to controversy in the final days of Andrea Radrizzani’s reign as he reportedly tried to use it as security against a loan for his purchase of Sampdoria [The Athletic, 1 June], has been a key part of the new regime’s long-term goals for the club, and consultants have apparently started work on realising them.

Tottenham’s glittering new 62,850 capacity stadium, which opened in 2019, is generally seen as the benchmark in England and reportedly brings in £5m in match-day revenue per game, £4m higher than the 37,792-capacity Elland Road generates, but Paraag Marathe and the new regime have got consultancy work under way already.

Mike Keegan writes in his Mail report Tuesday (25 July): “Plans are being drawn up to increase capacity to 55,000 with a raft of new corporate hospitality offerings in revamped east and north stands. That gap to Spurs will be bridged.

“Much-needed redevelopment, which was effectively on hold under Radrizzani, is, all of a sudden, gathering pace. Planning consultants have started work. Designs have been drawn up. Costs have been estimated at £200m. The money is there, as is the expertise.

“In 2014, the 49ers moved from the iconic but crumbling Candlestick Park to the new state-of-the-art Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Silicon Valley.

“It can be disclosed that the man who worked on the funding for that £1bn move is already doing likewise for Elland Road. A group who managed the construction at Levi’s has now switched its attention from West Coast to West Yorkshire.”

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Investment in the stadium, if done right, is arguably even more effective over the long-term than investment in the squad.

It may not be viable to hope to match Spurs’ revenue, given they are in London and would have a larger capacity either way, but closing the gap would clearly be beneficial for the club.

And if it allows more Leeds United fans in the ground to watch the team play every other week then it is immediately beneficial for the fanbase, although what it might mean for ticket prices is yet to become clear and will be a factor.

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While the 49ers are reportedly at pains not to lose what makes Elland Road intimidating for visiting teams, development of the ground should improve the experience for fans, and increased revenue, in theory, should translate into greater ability to invest in the transfer market.

Clearly this is a long-term plan and is unlikely to have any benefit on Daniel Farke’s current window, which is rapidly running out with departures still vastly outnumbering signings.

But it is not uncommon for incoming owners to make grand promises and then instantly put them on the back burner once they’ve got their feet under the table.

So, while there are inescapable concerns about the shape of the squad currently, it is encouraging that Marathe and company appear to be making the right noises and backing up their words so far.

In other Leeds United, Farke is now sure to sign a man he has himself called a “top, top player” after various developments in the past few days.

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