The decline of Leeds United from early-2000s big spenders to Football League regulars has been well documented. The club’s financial difficulties made them a byword for fiscal responsibility before the demise of Portsmouth in the 2010s. Key assets such as Harry Kewell, Alan Smith and Mark Viduka were sold off to keep the club afloat but perhaps the key sale was that of the club’s iconic stadium, Elland Road, in 2004.
The club has passed through a number of owners in the subsequent time with each promising to buy the ground back for the fans. Yet, these promises have proven to be empty ones.
However, the club has announced that, after 13 years of renting Elland Road, they are once again owners of their own stadium. A deal was struck with landlords, Teak Commercial Limited, who had bought the ground with a buy-back clause in the deal.
“Today is an important day in our history and a proud day for me and my team,” owner Andrea Radrizzani said in a club statement, “When I met with management and supporters during my first few months at the club the purchase of Elland Road was very high on their list of priorities and I’m delighted to announce that we have completed that process today (28 June).”
The club has stated that the purchase of the ground will significantly reduce their expenditure and allow them to redirect funds into their academy, squad and upgrading Elland Road with building work already underway on the West Stand.
The Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, was also delighted with the news, “It is fantastic news that the club have confirmed the buy-back of Elland Road Stadium. This is an extremely positive step in the right direction for everyone associated with Leeds United and especially the club’s tremendous and loyal fans.”
“As we prepare for the new season to begin in August,” she added, “I very much welcome the intent being shown by Andrea to move the club forward with real purpose and ambition.”
Leeds United fans were understandably delighted with many taking to Twitter to share their delight as the club heads into the 2017/18 season with a positive outlook surrounding it.