Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) continues to be in discussions over the acquisition of a stake in English Championship side Leeds United, with owner Andrea Radrizzani saying that the Doha-based organisation is one three potential investors he has shortlisted.
The Eleven Sports owner is open to outside investment after investing more than £90m (€100.9m/$111.3m) in the club and as he bids to secure Leeds’ promotion to the Premier League. The Yorkshire club fell just short of promotion in the 2018-19 season, finishing third in the Championship and missing out in the play-offs.
In an interview with The Times the Leeds owner claimed ‘more than 20 parties’ had shown an interest in the club, but he had selected three to continue talks with. He said they included QSI, the Qatari state-backed owners of Paris Saint-Germain led by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who Radrizzani knows from his time at the MP & Silva agency.
“The option of Qatar Sports Investment and Nasser – first of all they are friends, we have had a good relationship for a long time,” he told the newspaper. “Secondly, they have the possibility to bring this club to compete with Manchester City, so for the fans that could be a fantastic opportunity.
“The second is based in America, he’s a big fan of Leeds United since he was a child, and I like that.
“Another one is the owner of an Italian club. With another club you can create synergy to be more competitive and to target the Premier League – we could maybe get a loan to increase the quality of the team.”
Al-Khelaifi is also chairman of beIN Media Group, but the Qatar-based pay-TV broadcaster’s spending power has been dramatically affected by the pirate beoutQ operation. The broadcaster has stated that it now sees all sports rights as non-exclusive and that its rights bids will reflect that.
Radrizzani has proven himself open to outside investment previously, having sold a 10-per-cent stake in Leeds to 49ers Enterprises, the investment entity behind the San Francisco 49ers, for £11m in 2018.
In May, the Financial Times reported that QSI was interested in buying a controlling stake in the club but Radrizanni said such a deal would make little sense at the time because financial fair play rules would make it difficult to funnel any of the money into the club.
“The most important thing for me is to make this club big again,” Radrizzani said. “When I will open the door to others [to take over] I don’t know, hopefully when we are in the Premier League. The financial support would be more important in the Premier League.
“When it will be done, it doesn’t matter which share [I have], it matters that I can continue my project and also have the support to build this club back again.