Leeds United FC has announced Red Bull as its front-of-shirt sponsor in a deal that also includes the company acquiring a minority stake in the club.

Starting in the 2024/25 season, Leeds United’s men’s and women’s first team kits will feature the energy company’s branding on the front. Red Bull will also become the club’s exclusive energy drink partner, with its branding displayed inside Elland Road and during the club’s official media appearances.

Paraag Marathe, Chairman of Leeds United, commented: “I am thrilled that Red Bull is joining us to build a bright future for Leeds United and shares our deep respect for this truly special club. 

“As Chairman, our consortium of investment partners will be invaluable to me as we approach this important moment for the club, now and into the future. Red Bull’s addition is a historic milestone that will further empower the club to reach its full competitive potential.”

Described by Marathe as an “important moment” for the club, this multi-year deal comes after Leeds’ 1-0 defeat to Southampton in the Championship play-off final. As a result, the Yorkshire club missed out on promotion back to the Premier League after being relegated the previous season.

Although the value of the deal has not been disclosed, reports suggest that it will significantly boost the club’s finances. Leeds are in desperate need of an injection of cash. Failing to gain promotion, which it projected for, has left it needing to dramatically decrease its wage bill.

The deal not only introduces new commercial revenues, but also provides additional capital investment in exchange for a minority ownership stake. This infusion of funds will enhance the club’s ability to compete both on and off the pitch as they pursue promotion next season.

Red Bull’s venture into football has been marked by its strategic acquisitions and investments in clubs around the world. Beginning with the purchase of Austrian club SV Austria Salzburg in 2005, which was rebranded as FC Red Bull Salzburg, the energy drink company has expanded its football portfolio significantly.

Beyond Austria, Red Bull has made notable investments in clubs such as RB Leipzig in Germany and New York Red Bulls in the US.

Red Bull’s clubs have experienced a lot of success. RB Salzburg, for instance, has dominated Austrian football, clinching numerous league titles and cup victories. RB Leipzig, on the other hand, swiftly ascended through the German football ranks, earning promotion to the Bundesliga and consistently challenging the traditional powerhouses.

The firm’s commercial approach of not only sponsorship deals, but also taking ownership stakes in clubs, has sometimes led to controversial rebranding and restructuring like the aforementioned clubs. However, Leeds has stated that its name and logo will remain unchanged.

The company’s emergence in football hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Much like issues around name changes, the company has been at the forefront of debates around ownership structure in Germany.

The 50+1 rule, established in 1998, aims to give clubs and their fans majority ownership, with external investors limited to a minority stake. However, RB Leipzig’s rise, charging high fees for voting membership, raised doubts about the rule’s efficacy and stability. This led to a review of the rules in 2023. 

Oliver Mintzlaff, CEO of Corporate Projects and Investments at Red Bull, said: “We are delighted to be an important element and partner of Leeds United. A club that is certainly one of the biggest in England and has a rich and successful history. 
“The ambition to bring Leeds United back to the Premier League and establish themselves in the best football league in the world fits very well with Red Bull. We look forward to the partnership and are optimistic and energised about the future.”

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