Leeds United negotiations with 49ers Enterprises run on without relegation deal in 'peculiar' situation - Phil Hay
Phil Hay has called it “peculiar to say the least” that talks between Andrea Radrizzani and 49ers Enterprises have continued to the brink of relegation without a deal in place for what comes next at Leeds United if it happens.
The two sides have long had an agreement in place for the Italian to sell his shares to the American outfit for as much as £500million [i News, 6 March] if the club remains in the Premier League, but after only escaping the drop on the final day last year they find themselves in the exact same position this season.
Radrizzani is involved in an attempted takeover of Sampdoria in Italy now, suggesting he plans to move on, but with change expected in the board room, the dug out, and the dressing room, all are tipped to be difficult to sort until the ownership is clarified for next season, so the lack of a contingency plan at this late stage is strange in Hay’s view.
Speaking on The Phil Hay Monday Club for the Square Ball the Athletic journalist said (22 May, 13m 45s): “I still think this will come down to money, and it will still come down to the offer that 49ers Enterprises are able to make him in the Championship if that’s where Leeds end up, and whether or not it suits him financially to do it.
“From the questions I’ve asked about this I have absolutely no doubt that 49ers Enterprises do want them [if they are] in the Championship, and do want to run the club. They don’t want to be stuck in this 44% position where fundamentally they’re involved in the decisions but [it’s] not theirs ultimately, it is still Radrizzani who has control.
“That’s going to have to resolve itself first of all. It seems to be, not impossible, but tricky to appoint a head coach, a director of football, to create a new structure of management above your head coach, to make decisions on players, until you know whose decision is final and is running the show.
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“It seems peculiar to say the least that the negotiations about what happens in the event of relegation have been allowed to run on this long, because you can go back to November when people were starting to ask the question, ‘Is this all going to run into trouble?’
“But as it stands at the moment we’re still waiting to get white smoke about a deal actually being in place for the scenario where the club go down.”
Elephant in the room
It is impossible to know what has gone on behind closed doors but it clearly isn’t the ideal situation for Leeds United to be heading into the final weekend of a tumultuous season with little in the way of clarity if they can’t escape at the last.
Everyone involved was no doubt hoping that relegation wouldn’t still be a going concern by now, but after the 3-1 defeat to West Ham on Sunday (21 May) it is a very real one.
Clearly, four managers in, with Victor Orta gone, and the owner spending the week that the Whites might return to the Championship focusing on rescuing a club in Italy, is a picture that suggests events haven’t gone to plan.
But given that the 49ers seem to be committed either way it appears to be a significant oversight for the two sides to have not come to an agreement on what to do if the Whites go down.
They had worked out the preferred path months ago, and after a close shave last season with victory at Brentford there is enough recent precedent for this eventuality to need addressing.
If Sam Allardyce can squeeze a win out of a beleaguered side and gets a helping hand from Bournemouth at Everton then the additional negotiations will prove needless, but it’s a risk to bank on that.
And if it doesn’t happen then the club will be in a sort of limbo with regards to the unavoidable overhaul that is on the horizon, without something decisive on who will be steering the ship through it ASAP.
In other Leeds United news, Chris Sutton, Micah Richards and Mark Chapman couldn’t believe what Allardyce has done ahead of the crucial last day against Tottenham.