Eight hours before Leeds United open the Premier League season against Watford, the team’s prospective new owner, Andrea Radrizzani, cut an easy and approachable figure. He’s a huge Philadelphia 76ers fan and he had already laid out his philosophy on soccer to members of the England media before departing.
If there’s any upside in the January sale by American tycoon Ken Bates of Leeds, it’s that it convinced Radrizzani, the a-league-newcomer who has made a move into soccer in England, that the club is on the right track. Bates had staked out an influential role in England soccer as owner of Leeds, representing the club and its financial involvement in the Premier League.
“I wanted to be a partner in the club,” Radrizzani told the BBC. “The only thing we need to create a transfer balance sheet and immediately work to return to the Premier League. I believe that Leeds is the one team in this division where you can start tomorrow and not a hardship because there are no rules, no transfer ban, no squad overcrowding. It’s a recipe for a unique club.”
Radrizzani is taking over as chief executive of Leeds United from Ralph Topping, who had put the club up for sale in July. Radrizzani, an Italian, recently agreed to pay an undisclosed price for the club. It was 30 million pounds ($50 million) but, according to the Guardian, it was more like an optimistic 50 million pounds ($70 million) which Radrizzani explained is only based on league revenues.
Despite the above the sale would cost the club four million pounds a month, which makes it believe that soon it can make its Premier League return.
“The short-term part will be difficult but you have to realize it’s the same league as they were last year and the structures are the same,” Radrizzani said. “The players remain the same. We have three wonderful new signings that are going to contribute greatly.”
Radrizzani made the initial approach to buy the team after seeing the club back on TV and realizing it is a club rich in traditions. He can only dream of winning the title but, given the fact it is the veteran Leeds squad he has signed, he already has that in mind.
“I will not in my lifetime think about winning the league title,” Radrizzani said. “I don’t care about that, but what we can achieve are the best possible results for this club and the players we have signed are very ambitious and will give a push to them.”