THE San Francisco 49ers are preparing to increase their minority stake in Leeds United, we can reveal.
Bosses at the NFL outfit are desperate to take on a bigger role at the Premier League new boys.
They want to bring the glory days back to Elland Road and will begin by adding to their 10 per cent holding.
Speaking to NBC Sports, 49ers president Paraag Marathe said: "We want to get more involved.
"Right now we are passengers on their plane. We are not flying the plane by any means.
"We want to help more. We want to drive more value on and off the pitch and use the 49ers expertise.
"We want to become bigger partners with Andrea (Radrizzani, Leeds owner). We are hoping that comes to fruition. To some extent we want to help him fly the plane a little bit more."
The 49ers paid £11million for a 10 per cent stake in the club in 2018 and already have execs on the board.
They include Marathe who is good pals with owner Andrea Radrizzani.
Marathe has 20 years at the 49ers and when they bought a stake in Leeds he was instantly put on the board to become the linkman.
He is constantly in touch with Radrizzani and plays an active role at the club.
He added: "The sky's the limit for Leeds. This is not a club where we made it to the Premier League and we are barely trying to hang on by the laces of our shoes.
"This is a club that has every opportunity to become one of the big contenders year in, year out in the Premier League.
"They have the fanhood, they have the stadium for it, they have the geography as a one club city.
"All the ingredients are there. We just have to deliver."
If they increase their stake it could mean a massive a war chest being made available for boss Marcelo Bielsa to go on a spending spree.
Owner Radrizzani says he has rejected takeover offers in recent weeks but is open to selling a minority stake for up to £300m.
He took over the club in 2017 and appointed Argentine Bielsa as manager a year later.
Promotion at Bielsa’s second attempt marked the end of a 16-year absence from the Premier League.
The Italian, who also owns broadcaster Eleven Sports, said investors were lining up to back his plans for Leeds.
Marathe has made no secret of the 49ers desire to increase their share and has previously said: "It's something that we are absolutely hoping to do. The journey isn't concluded. It's just beginning."
The club can expect to make £100m in revenue this season, largely thanks to broadcast deals.
But a lack of fans at its 38,000-seater stadium has already caused losses of almost £40m.
The prospect of the 49ers increasing their stake in Leeds comes after other NFL teams have invested heavily in the Premier League.
Manchester United's Glazer family own Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while Arsenal's Stan Kroenke has the LA Rams.
Fulham's Shahid Khan is owner of Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL.
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