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Leeds United announce partnership with San Francisco 49ers

Jan 10, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT

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At first glance, this seems an odd headline to stumble across.

However, the NFL continuing to grab a bigger and bigger piece of the English soccer pie, it comes as no surprise that another American football franchise is claiming their stake.

The San Francisco 49ers and championship side Leeds United have announced a business partnership that entails…well, they don’t really know yet.

The release on Leeds’ official websites states the 49ers will “send a delegation to Leeds to meet with senior management staff to discuss key areas of the club’s business, including ticketing strategies, sponsorship and commercial opportunities, technology, and retail and merchandising.”

According to Leeds United managing director David Haigh, the first step is brainstorming.

“This is a strategic partnership and we’re looking forward to working closely with the 49ers,” said Haigh. “They are a worldwide brand, and we’ll be discussing all aspects of our business; marketing, ticketing, merchandising, and commercial opportunities, and hopefully tapping into and sharing knowledge with them.”

The 49ers are on the same page, with CEO Paraag Marathe basically paraphrasing Haigh.

“The 49ers are very excited about the prospect of partnering with Leeds United, a club with an international following as well as great history and tradition,” said Marathe, echoing Haigh’s sentiments of future workings. “We look forward to sharing best practices with Leeds United and providing them with our perspective on the sports industry. This is an exciting opportunity for us to link up with an English football club and learn from each other.”

We’ll have to wait and see exactly what this partnership brings both sides, but expect to see lots of cross promotion, and possibly even the opening of future doors with the opportunity for even more melding than just business partnerships.

Maybe Colin Kaepernick racing down the touchline blasting a shot on goal? Patrick Willis punishing opposing midfielders with crunching tackles? Now there’s a thought.

  1. unclemosesgreen - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Is that really the best the Niners could do? I know Leeds has a proud history, but they’ve also fallen through the trap door. This is a truly bizarre story.

  2. mkbryant3 - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    Totally bizarre.

  3. footballer4ever - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    *Puking*. Really? nfl has no real interest or business blending with football over there except to use England’s expertise and and football’s worlwide reach. I guess the “almighty” nfl might be king here, but it sure is not even a spot in the worlwide sporting world.

    • mdac1012 - Jan 11, 2014 at 1:05 AM

      Bizarre is your post. The NFL shouldn’t try to broaden its market and it’s not a spot on the worldwide sporting world? Really? What expertise are you talking about exactly that England has? The NFL knows how to market itself and make boat loads of money. I understand an NFL team partnering with an English football team, I just don’t understand why the Niners decided on Leeds United.

  4. footballer4ever - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:16 AM


    Bizarre is your reply. Yes, as big and overhyped eggball is here, eggball has no significance or is not relevant in the world as planet earth and not “planet USA” as you know it.

    • mdac1012 - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      The NFL is a $10 billion a year business, looking to be a $25 billion a year business in the next 15 years. Maybe that’s overhyped in your world but in the real world, that’s a big time business. You do that by expanding your markets and exposing your product to bigger audiences.

      Again, maybe you don’t think the NFL should do that, that’s fine it’s your opinion. But if every sports league should just stay in their own country and not bother to expand their markets, we wouldn’t have the EPL here. It has nothing to do with living in “planet USA” it has to do with living in the real world.

      • mdac1012 - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        And when I say EPL here I am talking about merchandise, TV deal, pre season and post season tours….etc. Just to clarifying it for you.

      • footballer4ever - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:57 AM


        Have I offended you eggball pride, mate!? So what the Not For Literates is a 10B a year business? Baseball/Hockey/Basketball/rugby and Football, (soccer for your eggball fancy) has two legs up on eggball internationally and that’s something it bothers your comi$$ioner. That “World Football League” (lol) which was the equivalent of the NASL was just an attempt to sell the sport to Europe, but it failed so now the strategy is to go for the country who is the creator of football and the one with the most viewed football league in the world(and it ain’t you eggball) to blend in and hopefully other countries will follow England’s path.

        Having said that, the nfl greed to go beyond /overseas will end up hurting the support in the country that has catapulted them to their National success just for the greed to want to become FIFA. In other words, keep the trash in house and stop trying to throw it upon others. 😉

      • mdac1012 - Jan 11, 2014 at 8:16 PM

        First off, a $10 billion a year business means in 2012 the NFL produced $10 billion in revenue (9.5 to be exact), I didn’t think that was that hard to understand, apparently it was for you.

        As far as my “eggball pride” and “my commissioner” go, I really don’t know where you are coming from. I never played American Football, I played real football (soccer). Real football is my favorite sport, and I would watch it, read about and play it 24/7, if I could. I have been following real football since the early 80’s, which wasn’t very easy back in the days pre-internet. I actually followed the Italian Leagues more so back then, than I did England because my grandfather would read the Italian newspapers and tell me what was going on. So you don’t have an NFL fan boy in me. You made a statement about the NFL, I disagreed with the statement and provided information for my argument. You have no information or coherent argumentative points so you resorted to making fun of american football by calling it a silly name and all the planet USA stuff.

        Yes, the World Football League failed, basically because it sucked. Every other football league that has attempted to get started up in the US has also failed, because they have sucked as well. The NFL attempted to expand their product in Europe and tried to do it with rejects and has beens from the NFL. And now they are trying to expand once again into Europe, namely England and for some reason you appear to be emotionally threatened by that. Why? I have no idea. It’s a business decision, and ultimately the people of England will decide for them if it was a good business decision or not.

      • footballer4ever - Jan 12, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        @ mdtac1012

        for not being a “nfl fan boy” you do sure fake it really good. Either way, i called it eggball which it’s not a silly name, but a more appropiate name to start with. Also, the “World Football League” failed because nfl wanted automatic profits than to go thru the growing pains which it’s needed to grow a sport, more like MLS had to go thru, to reap the benefits. Now the strategy is to take regular nfl games more like European football clubs do but during the summer pre-season games. In the end, nfl wants/needs are desperate to get English people to validate their sport internationally because they can’t do it on their own.

    • mdac1012 - Jan 12, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      This exchange is getting a little tedious, but where your missing the point is you are looking at this from an emotional point of view when it’s strictly business. The NFL is not looking for validation from anyone. The NFL is the most profitable and highest revenue producing sports league in the world. It makes more money than the Premier League and Formula One.

      The NFL plays games in England for the same reason EPL teams come over to the U.S. and play exhibition games. Is Chelsea or Man City looking for validation when they play games here? No, these games generate revenue for the teams and expose American audiences to the teams and the league which in turn produces more fans to buy stuff and generate revenue. It’s strictly business.

      The World League failed because the NFL pulled the plug on it. The purpose of the league was to expose the sport to European audiences and also to provide a place where young players could get playing time that they weren’t getting in the NFL. The problem is neither was working out. Europeans weren’t interested in an inferior product and the league was not producing players for the NFL. It’s the same reason the World League failed when they tried it in the U.S. in the early 90’s, audiences don’t want to watch second rate players play in a second rate league.

      Do you get it now? My guess is no but I really can’t explain it any simpler. Good luck!

      • footballer4ever - Jan 12, 2014 at 8:10 PM


        You are “right”. Thanks.

  5. jdfsquared - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:07 AM

    Is this an entry point managed by the NFL to learn a bit more what it’s like to operate a sporting franchise in England in anticipation of an NFL franchise in London? Seems like it could be part of that plan done in a way (with a Championship side) so as not to attract too much attention.

    I mean, the NFL is MUCH better at monetizing their product than any English football club. Just look at their stadia and what’s available there. It’s clear that this isn’t about sport as much as the business of sport. And it’s clear what Leeds gets from the deal, the quotes from the two parties say it all. What isn’t clear is what the Niners get. Unless it’s knowledge of the English sporting landscape funneled direct to the NFL front office.

  6. herogoesallin - Jan 11, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    this is awesome. and we please move the 49ers to the uk already.

  7. footballer4ever - Jan 12, 2014 at 7:39 PM


    Why are you getting all fussed about?
    Sure the nfl is looking for international validation/recognition and England is their quick strategy for that rather than go the conventional way. Of course nfl are looking at it from a bu$ine$$ perspective because greed blinds them and the 10 billion a year storyline it only proves this is a country with plenty resources that other countries may lacks, but in no way it validates it as a sport. In reference to European football clubs coming to US is also for bu$ine$$ purposes, you are correct, but they do so during pre-season not during in-season because risking their own fan base/football league by taking another franchises games to play abroad sure has validation need/greed written all over it. Go on, nfl, roll your dices in London and just hope your experiment don’t fall flat once the novelty wears off.

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