Leeds United, the newly relegated team in the EFL Championship, is working hard to regain its place in the Premier League with help from an unexpected source – Ackerley Partners, a Seattle-based holding company and venture capital firm that also owns a minority stake in the NHL’s Kraken. The team has sold a minority stake in the club to Ackerley Partners, which will use the new capital to enhance both commercial and football operations.
The move marks another step towards Americanization of the English club as 49ers Enterprises, an arm of NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, completed its long-planned takeover of Leeds United in July. Since then, 49ers Enterprises has been overhauling the club’s functions and is considering bringing in more investors.
Ackerley Partners is led by brothers Ted and Chris Ackerley, whose father Barry Ackerley owned the Seattle SuperSonics from 1983-2001 and co-founded the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. Leeds’ hopes for promotion remain strong as they are currently sitting in third place in the EFL Championship with six wins out of their last seven matches. If they do get promoted back to the Premier League, they stand to gain significantly more sponsorship and broadcast income, with annual media revenue projected to be more than $125 million per club. Additionally, Leeds is one of three recently relegated teams preparing a lawsuit against Everton for violations of profitability and financial sustainability rules.