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Red Bull invests in Leeds United Football Club

May 30, 2024
Illustration of a soccer ball on a soccer pitch with a dollar sign line

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Red Bull has acquired a stake in Leeds United Football Club and will be its front-of-shirt sponsor, club's chairman Paraag Marathe tells Axios.

Why it matters: The multiyear deal marks Red Bull's first investment in English football.

Driving the news: The agreement comes as Leeds prepares for a comeback season after relegation from the Premier League in 2023 and losing its chance at promotion last week.

Catch up quick: 49ers Enterprises, the venture capital arm of NFL franchise the San Francisco 49ers, acquired full control of Leeds in 2023. The entity had been a minority investor since 2018.

  • Leeds has a slew of celebrity minority owners like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, golfers Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas and actor Russell Crowe. Actor Will Ferrell reportedly invested in the team, though Leeds declined to confirm.

Zoom in: Red Bull is a "significant minority investor," Marathe says.

  • He declined to share the size and purchase price of Red Bull's stake and the club's current valuation.
  • "As far as valuations today, I don't really care," Marathe says. "I just care about getting us back up to the Premier League. I'm not looking at what it might be worth today or tomorrow."
  • The front of Leeds men's and women's kits will feature Red Bull branding starting in the 2024/2025 season. Red Bull will be the exclusive energy drink partner, and branding will be added to the stadium.

Zoom out: The investment further entrenches Red Bull into sports.

  • The company owns several clubs in Europe and the Americas, including RB Leipzig, New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Bragantino, Red Bull Brasil and FC Red Bull Salzburg.
  • But unlike other teams, Leeds will not add Red Bull to its name and it will not have operational control of the club.
  • "It is important to me to protect the legacy that is Leeds United," Marathe says. "[Red Bull] understood the pristine nature of what we have and that we need to preserve it."

What's next: The team is focused on the transfer window, Marathe says.

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