Chairman on centenary.
On Leeds United’s 100th birthday, Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani sat down with LUTV for an exclusive interview...
Leeds United celebrates its 100th birthday today, how proud are you to be chairman of the club on this occasion?
“It’s an important moment and I want to take the opportunity to send my best wishes and happy birthday to Leeds United fans, legends, ex-players and everybody linked to the club. It is a very important day, 100 years is not for everybody. We are old enough to remember our past, but also still very young and determined to have a bright future and we go into the next 100 years with hope and motivation to be a big club again.”
You’ve been involved with Leeds for three of the 100 years, how pleased are you with the progress you have made?
“I think we have made a strong and massive improvement. We have been on a learning curve, for sure the first year as owner of the club was difficult because I was inexperienced and hopefully I’ve learnt from the mistakes. Last year was my second year and we were very close to promotion. We have a fantastic manager in Marcelo Bielsa and we have developed good players, not only in the first team, but also in the Under-18s and Under-23s. When I arrived we only had one or two international players, but now we have 12-14 national players between Under-18 and Under-23s, so the future is bright for this club. I also think the immediate future and the current players can be very successful. I strongly believe in the job Marcelo Bielsa is doing and what he can do in the next few months and I believe in the players a lot.”
You showed your commitment to the club again this summer, keeping hold of Kalvin Phillips and other players have been given new deals. Do you feel your long term future is at Leeds United?
“For sure, especially if we are in the Premier League. If we are not, then I think I can get tired of this league, but I am working very hard to get out of here (the Championship), together with the club and the players to get to where we deserve to be.”
There has been a lot of talk about investment into the club following an interview you gave last week, can you clarify the comments made about investors?
“Yes I would love to clarify as I think my words were taken in a different context. Because of the job we have done in the last two or three years, we have attracted a lot of interest. Obviously the club has modernised on a lot of levels, which is shown by our revenues which have increased a lot to over £50m. Our attendance is the top of the league, the club has modernised the media, we have partnerships with Amazon, Wish and Deliveroo, so big corporate companies are starting to work with Leeds and before my arrival this was impossible even to think. We have to be proud of the club and the fact we are attractive to potential investors. When and if we will open discussions completely is another story. It depends on the right moment, where I believe we need support to build the club bigger than what we could do with our own resources.”
Do you have one game or moment that you have treasured more than any since you bought the club?
“To be honest, the best moments of joy I have had were quickly erased by the defeat last year with Derby County. At the same time it gave me much more strength and motivation because we all deserve this, so we need to fight harder. I have faith and belief that hard work will pay off one day.”
There are lots of events to celebrate the club’s birthday, culminating in a gala dinner with over 50 legends of the club attending. How much are you looking forward to all of it?
“It is exciting. I know some of the faces and I’m really excited to meet all of them. The club had a few amazing eras in the 1970s and early 2000s. Obviously at my age I remember the early 2000 team of the Champions League. I can understand what it is like for the Leeds fans to have all of these legends in town and for us I think it is a great moment and opportunity to feel the history and use it as motivation for approaching the future.”