Trust Response on Red Bull Partnership with Leeds United

Leeds United have announced that Red Bull has taken a minority ownership stake in the club, as well as becoming our front-of-shirt sponsor. There was a mixed response from the fan base with some welcoming the financial investment, which of course is becoming more important to delivering on-field success, while others expressed their concerns strongly on what Red Bull’s future intentions could be, given their history with other sports clubs. We would be naïve as fans to assume there isn’t a larger, long-term plan for Red Bull’s initial foot in the door at Leeds United.

The global energy drink brand owns RB Leipzig in Germany's Bundesliga, Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg, MLS side New York Red Bulls, as well as Red Bull Bragantino and RB Brasil in Brazil. In the past, they have made significant changes to club names, badges and kits, placing their brand front and centre, overshadowing and in some cases erasing the history of the clubs they have purchased. This has been met with large protests from fans, and league-wide protests from fans of other clubs.

To be clear from the outset, any fundamental changes to Leeds United club's identity and heritage will receive maximum resistance from our fans, and we will be working closely with football authorities over the coming years in preparation for any such move by Red Bull.

While the club have been open and proactive in stating that no one from Red Bull will sit on the board and there will be no change to the name or logo, this is only a promise while the 49ers maintain complete control of the club. Nobody can predict what will happen after the 49ers’ custodianship, so we are taking the opportunity at an early stage to let Red Bull, or any other potential custodians of our club, know that we will not allow any of these fundamental heritage or identity changes to happen to our club.

Backing of an Independent Football Regulator

One of the many reasons we are backing the introduction of an independent football regulator is their ability to install protections around football club identity and heritage. Although on hold until after the general election, the government white paper which was published after a fan-led review in 2022 proposes that clubs in the Premier League and English Football League will be held to account on specific heritage elements. 

Among these recommendations are a ‘duty to not relocate without approval’ and a ‘duty not to change crest, home shirt colours or name without approval’. That approval will not come without consultation with supporters, a move which the government says will ‘put fans back at the heart of how football is run.’ Leeds United Supporters’ Trust is proud to have been a part of this consultation process with the government and wholeheartedly support the recommendations. It’s important that we (and fans of other football clubs) have these types of protections in place sooner rather than later. We continue to work closely with the FSA on this to ensure its effective and meaningful implementation.

Your questions to the club

Yesterday, we compiled the most common questions sent to us via social media and email and put them to the club for their response. To the club’s credit, they were extremely responsive and understand that fans are likely to have concerns over the partnership. Some of the below has been address via media interviews but we would like to share the questions and answers in full, where possible:

Q: Leeds fans are a very passionate and demanding fanbase, it’s important that our fans know that all new investors and stakeholders have a clear understanding of our history and heritage - especially concerning badges, colours, renaming grounds with corporate sponsors ahead of legacy players/managers etc. How is this being communicated to our investors, especially those not based in the UK? 

A: Absolutely. This decision was not made lightly, and was the result of many conversations over several months with the Red Bull team to ensure they shared the 49ers respect for the club’s history and spirit, and that they were committed to the vision for Leeds going forward.

Q: It has been said that the Leeds United badge will remain unchanged, how will the shirt look, will it have the red logo on the shirts and will the club colours remain the same and unchanged.

A: Correct, the LUFC logo will remain unchanged. In terms of their branding, Red Bull may choose to use their original logo. Our shirts have previously featured red logos (Redkite, Bet24, Packard Bell). We understand supporters may have concerns about this, but we hope the benefit this partnership brings to on-pitch performance will ultimately outweigh that unease.

Q: Is Red Bull’s stake/investment linked to the stadium/ground in any way?

A: This deal isn't about Elland Road. Both 49ers Enterprises and Red Bull are both deeply respectful of the hallowed grounds at Elland Road. The 49ers have committed in the past that there are upgrades planned to enhance the fan experience. In terms of any sale of the ground, a reminder that there is an “Asset of Community Value” in place that would trigger during any sale conversations.

Q: In terms of the ground, will the board be considering selling naming rights to stadium or parts of the stadium?

A: Same response as above in that the deal isn’t about Elland Road. There will be some in-stadium activations, as is already the case for partners like Hisense. More details on those pieces will be announced soon.

Q: Can we have some commitment from the club that the stadium will not be renamed or if there any plans you will consult with fans before any decisions are made.

A: Absolutely.

Q: With a Lucrative investment what is the club’s priority in terms of how this will be spent? Players or ground/ facilities investment?

A: We can’t go into specific details on this, but the priority is still to put every pound onto the pitch. There are still more upgrades planned at Elland Road to enhance the fan experience in the short term.

Q: Do Red Bull intend to increase their stake in the future?

A: Red Bull is happy being a minority investor, and is committed to the vision and the leadership of 49ers Enterprises. When 49ers Enterprises purchased a minority stake several years ago, there was an option for the 49ers to take over from Andrea included from the start. No option like this exists for Red Bull and the 49ers remain fully committed to the club.

Q: Will there be a different sponsor for childrens’ shirts?

A: The club intends to keep a sponsor off the front of the kids’ shirts. It definitely won’t be Red Bull.

Q: Does this deal waiver or impact any transfer fees owned to RB Leipzig and Salzburg.

A: No

Q: If they don’t want to take control of the club, why are Red Bull investing, considering their current model?

A: This is the first time they are investing in an English football team, and that’s because Red Bull is committed to a bright future for Leeds United. They could have supported any other club, but they have had an abiding interest in Leeds for years, as supporters know. They want to be a part of helping this club reach its full potential, and they share the 49ers vision for how to get there.

Q: Are there any clauses around priority purchases on future sales?

A: No.

Q: Are there any intentions of getting involved in the wider community?

A: Yes absolutely, the community is at the heart of the club and will continue to be. Our partners play a big part in that and Red Bull is excited to build a relationship with the Leeds community. More to come on that soon.


There were three questions that we put to the club that we were unable to receive specific answers on: 

Q: What is the size of the Red Bull stake in the club (including sponsorship)?

Q: If the stake is a small percentage, does this allow for a larger stake to be taken in the future?

Q: Is the minority shareholding a sale of the 49ers stake or a creation of new shares?

The club said they are unable go into specifics on these questions, but that it is a significant minority investment, and a great deal for the club on the commercial side. The resources they are committing could mean the difference between saving a player from being sold or signing a player.

They re-iterated that the 49ers Enterprises will maintain complete control, and Red Bull is committed to the 49ers’ continued leadership of the club.

We thank the club for responding to our questions and we hope that this investment helps to bring automatic promotion next season. As fans, we must stay vigilant and united, continuing to make it clear to any new investors or owners that fundamentally changing the identity of Leeds United is forbidden and non-negotiable.

Marching on Together.

Leeds United Supporters’ Trust