Newly relegated Leeds United is pushing hard for a return to the Premier League — and turning to some unexpected American help to do it.
Now competing in the EFL Championship, Leeds has 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, according to Bloomberg.
The new capital will be used to boost both the commercial and football operations of the club.
The move extends the growing Americanization of the English club.
49ers Enterprises, the strategic investment arm of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, completed its long-planned takeover of the club in July.
Since then, 49ers Enterprises has been on a push to overhaul club functions, quickly remaking the club’s board of directors, and is also reportedly considering whether to bring in another new investor.
Ackerley Partners is led in part by brothers Ted and Chris Ackerley.
Their father, the late Barry Ackerley, owned the Seattle SuperSonics from 1983-2001 and co-founded the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
Leeds’ hopes for promotion are thus far holding firm — it sits in third place in the EFL Championship, one point above the cut line, with wins in six of its last seven matches.
A promotion back to the Premier League would bring much more sponsorship and broadcast income, with annual media revenue projected to be more than $125 million per club.
The club is also one of three recently relegated clubs preparing to sue Everton, which faces unprecedented Premier League penalties for violations of profitability and financial sustainability rules.