A Leeds fans’ group has accused chairman Andrea Radrizzani of “appalling” behaviour and demanded he immediately sells the club and Elland Road.
Leeds United Supporters Club (LUSC) has responded to The Athletic’s report that majority shareholder Radrizzani had offered to use the Elland Road stadium as collateral when securing a £26million bank loan to buy Sampdoria.
Radrizzani’s company Aser Group, in partnership with finance company Gestio Capital, concluded a takeover of the debt-ridden Italian club on Tuesday night.
The 48-year-old signed off an agreement in principle to use Elland Road as collateral in order to borrow the funds needed from Italian bank Banca Sistema to complete the deal, it was reported.
The Athletic said it was not known whether Elland Road was included in the final deal, or if Radrizzani’s company and partner Gestio Capital were able to secure the loan via a different method.
LUSC chairman Lord Mann said in a statement: “Andrea Radrizzani is no longer an appropriate person to own Leeds United.
“His behaviour is appalling and he risks never being welcome at our club again.”
It had been expected that Radrizzani’s buy-out at Sampdoria would expedite the sale of his 56 per cent stake in Leeds to American co-owners 49ers Enterprises.
The financial arm of NFL franchise the San Francisco 49ers increased its stake in Leeds to 44 per cent at the end of 2021 with a deal in place to buy Radrizzani’s stake and take full control before January 2024.
But in a personal statement posted on Twitter on Wednesday night, Radrizzani made no mention of a possible change of ownership at Leeds when apologising to fans for their relegation from the Premier League.
Lord Mann added: “The sooner he goes the better and we look forward to the 49ers Enterprises’ offer being accepted.
“The only way he can begin to salvage his reputation is through an immediate sale of the club and the stadium.
“There will be a major question mark about whether he is a fit and proper person to own a football club if he attempts to stay on as owner.”
It was also reported that co-owners 49ers Enterprises and Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear were unaware of Radrizzani’s proposal to use Elland Road as security on his loan.
Concerning times for #LUFC fans while their owners & senior leadership behave like this – more proof that independent regulation (that they've been publicly hostile to) is desperately needed.
— The FSA (@WeAreTheFSA) June 1, 2023
Leeds have not owned their stadium since 2004. After Radrizzani completed his full takeover of the club in 2017, he bought it back and it is currently owned by Elland Road Ltd, of which the Italian is a director.
Leeds refused to comment when approached by the PA news agency, while others fans’ groups, including Leeds United Supporters Trust, said they were seeking clarification from the club.
National fans group, the Football Supporters Association, said on Twitter that “these are concerning times” for Leeds supporters and added it was further evidence that the Premier League “needed independent regulation”.