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Talks on Qatari investment continue
Tuesday, 4th Jun 2019 11:41 by Tim Whelan

Andrea Radrizzani has flown to Doha for talks with Qatar Sports Investments, but at this stage he is only offering a 10% stake rather than offering them the chance to buy him out.

The talks are said to be at an advanced stage, as QSI aim to extend their footballing portfolio. They did consider investing in Roma, but settled on Leeds as they thought we had more potential to improve on our current position, presumably through the vast riches on offer in the Premier League if we can only get back there. They want to invest in an English club with a strong heritage, which is most definitely us. We’re not famous any more!

Radrizzani is talking to Nasser al-Khelaifi, the businessman who fronts most of Qatar’s investments in sports. A close friend of Qatar’s emir, Al-Khelaifi is president of P.S.G. and chairman of beIN Sports, while he has already worked with Radz in the past. Al-Khelaifi backed Qatar’s joint sports television venture in Asia with Radrizzani’s global sports rights company MP Silva.

Some Leeds fans have got very excited that this investment could give us untold riches to spend in the transfer market and take us back to our rightful place amongst the elite clubs of English football. But others feel that we would be selling our soul to the devil by accepting vast sums from a state guilty of appalling treatment of workers building World Cup stadiums, amongst other human rights abuses to be taken into consideration, while there have been a few doubts that Qatar secured the 2022 World Cup by entirely fair means.

And for the time being the investment is only going to be for a 10% stake in the club, as Radrizzani isn’t prepared to sell the club in it’s entirety at this stage. But that might change at a later stage if we can get promoted, as Premier League status will undoubtedly increase the amount QSI will be willing to pay him for the club, and by then he might have achieved whatever he’s looking to do in terms of using Leeds United to secure TV rights for his media companies. The investment that is currently being discussed is roughly £7m to £10m and the possibility of some loan players, which hopefully means some of PSG’s surplus players coming to Leeds, not the best of our youngsters going in the opposite direction.

In any case, while we remain in the Championship we will have to comply with the EFL’s ‘Financial Fair Play’ rules, which will limit us to total losses of £39m over any three year period, if we are to avoid the points deduction fate that befell Birmingham City in the season just finished. In 2017/18 we had a pre-tax loss of £4.3m, and that was only after we’d received £15m from Burnley for Chris Wood. Our accounts for last season have yet to be published and losses are likely to have increased along with the wage bill and incoming transfers, though some of this will have been recouped through the sale of Ronaldo Vieira.

So FFP will ensure that the Qatari’s can’t just splash what ever cash they like to take us up, though it’s possible that they might have persuaded Marcello Bielsa that sufficient funds would be available to make it worth staying on for another season, as this deal has been in the pipeline for some weeks. And certain types of expenditure are exempt from FFP, such as investment in infrastructure and the academy, so they could expand the stadium capacity next season in order to generate additional income further into the future, which FFP would allow us to spend on the team.

Another complication in the years to come might be that UEFA doesn’t allow teams with a single owner to compete against each other in European club competitions, which would be a headache if we were ever to get that far and then be drawn against PSG. Though we don’t need to worry about that now, and currently we might even see that as a nice problem to have.

And if we ever do get that far and the Qatari’s had to choose only one club, might they decide that with Leeds re-established in Europe’s richest league, they would be better concentrating on us rather than a club that is limited to being the only big fish in the much smaller pool of the French league?

Reuters Media Express

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