In a bid to return to the Premier League, newly relegated Leeds United has secured the help of an unexpected source in the United States. The team, currently competing in the EFL Championship, 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. This move represents another step in the Americanization of English clubs as 49ers Enterprises, the strategic investment arm of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, completed its takeover of Leeds in July.
Ackerley Partners is partly run by brothers Ted and Chris Ackerley, whose father Barry owned the Seattle SuperSonics from 1983-2001 and co-founded the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. With their new capital, Leeds plans to enhance both its commercial and football operations. If promoted back to the Premier League, this would bring in significantly more sponsorship and broadcast revenue, with annual media revenue predicted to be in excess of $125 million per club.
Leeds’ promotion hopes remain strong as they currently sit third in the EFL Championship, just one point above the cut-off line. However, they are not alone as three recently relegated teams have prepared legal action against Everton for breaching profitability and financial viability rules, which could result in unprecedented Premier League fines if successful. Despite these challenges, Leeds remains focused on achieving promotion back to England’s top flight with continued support from both their domestic and international investors.