Written by By By Rosemary Godwin, CNN
Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani describes the impetus for being committed to rebuilding the club as being rooted in the club’s century-long history of selling youth talent to Premier League rivals.
The Italian, who bought the club from Massimo Cellino this year, described how, during his 20 years in charge of the Italian side AS Roma, he had allowed some of the club’s brightest young players to be sold to English clubs, usually in exchange for €30m (£25m, $34m) for newly arrived stars.
“This decision was very controversial at the time,” said Radrizzani, speaking during a press conference at Leeds’ Elland Road stadium in Leeds, England, on Friday.
“I think this incident created a tension between the fans, between the players and between myself and the other clubs, including Chelsea, for whom those players were very attractive.”
Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani (L) watches the club’s Super League match against AFC Bournemouth in Yorkshire, northern England, on May 12, 2017. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
“For me, that is my mistake. I had to listen to other coaches. It’s not a hobby for me — it’s not about only winning trophies. I’m a businessman. And when we talk about winning trophies, we should be focusing on young players, if possible the ones who have not done a certain amount of games.”
Radrizzani believes that young players can attract the best players.
“It’s important to know that these young players can act as an agent to get the best players. They can get the best players because they are not only in a small club. Sometimes, they were the best (players) from their country,” he said.
Leeds United vs. Bournemouth results
Radrizzani has plans to make Leeds competitive again by creating a complex, with an artificial pitch. He also wants to include LED lights, allowing the stadium to host night matches.
The club say that he has also employed American investment bankers David Yankowitz and Michael Green to consult on the business strategy of the club.
The need for investment is clear. Leeds have made their millions from fan membership through the “Leeds United Supporters Trust.”