Leeds relegated from the Premier League: Boss Sam Allardyce apologises to fans

Leeds relegated from the Premier League: Boss Sam Allardyce apologises to fans

Sam Allardyce has called on Leeds United’s ownership situation to be resolved as the club faces up to life back in the Championship.

Three seasons after Marcelo Bielsa gloriously returned the West Yorkshire outfit to the top flight after a 16-year absence, Leeds find themselves once again out of England’s elite.

Both Allardyce and the club as a whole in their own statementexternal-link apologised for the relegation that was confirmed by a 4-1 home loss to Tottenham, with Leeds also stating they are in a “strong position” to mount an immediate promotion bid.

However, Allardyce feels the ownership issue has to be resolved as a priority.

“Is it going to be bought, is it going to stay the same? That is the first thing that needs to be sorted out,” he said.

Leeds United fans react after their team is relegated from the Premier League
Leeds suffered their seventh relegation from the top flight, and first since 2003-04

Will Radrizzani sell out to the 49ers?

It is understood a deal is in place for the owners of the San Francisco 49ers, who currently own 44% of the club, to complete a full sale by buying chairman Andrea Radrizzani’s remaining shares in a deal that could ultimately be worth £500m.

However, there has also been reports that there is no fall-back figure in the event of relegation, which would inevitably impact the valuation of the club.

Radrizzani bought Leeds for £45m in 2017. He did not attend the Tottenham game so did not hear the chants for him to leave the club by furious supporters, who feel his loyalty to now-axed football director Victor Orta and the decision to sack beloved former boss Bielsa in February 2022 are the major factors behind where Leeds now find themselves.

It was confirmed before the game that Radrizzani’s Aser Holding Company had bought a stake in Sampdoria, who have just been relegated from Serie A.

It has not been clarified whether Radrizzani intends to be involved in two clubs or whether the Sampdoria deal is a trigger for him leaving Leeds.

Leeds United boss Sam Allardyce reacts during his side's 4-1 home defeat to Tottenham
Leeds United picked up one point out of 12 in Sam Allardyce’s four games in charge

Allardyce job talks next week

Allardyce says he is likely to have talks with the club hierarchy in the coming days about whether he will stay on after initially only signing a contract for the final four games of the season.

He does have the experience of Championship promotion campaigns with Bolton and West Ham.

However, he accepts no decision has been made from either side about his continued presence at Elland Road.

“It is really sad the club is in this position,” he added. “To the fans I apologise. The last thing I wanted was to be the man who took Leeds United down.

“It is a tough old world when things start failing. You have to come back more determined.

“I haven’t said I am staying. There is a lot of discussion to be done and I am not committing myself. We will thrash it out because both sides have to be comfortable.”

What happens now?

Leeds’ statement called relegation “painful” and admitted this season’s efforts had “not been good enough”.

However, it added that “behind the scenes we have worked hard to ensure that the past will not be repeated. Our focus is now on how we get straight back to the Premier League” and “Leeds United remains in a strong position to build a team that can challenge for promotion from the Championship next season”.

Allardyce feels the addition of a goalscorer could make that aim a reality.

However, there is uncertainty over some key members of the Leeds squad.

Jack Harrison came close to joining Leicester in January and there is bound to be interest in the winger.

Tyler Adams, Illan Meslier, Robin Koch and Wilfried Gnonto are also likely to have their suitors.

Decisions must also be made about the youngsters who have spent this season out on loan, including Charlie Cresswell and Joe Gelhardt, plus defender Cody Drameh, who started for Luton in their play-off final victory against Coventry.

Moving some members of the Leeds squad on may not be easy.

Striker Georginio Rutter was signed in January in a deal that could eventually cost Leeds £36m. But he started only one game, failed to score in his 13 appearances and had his shirt thrown back on to the pitch when he tossed it into the crowd during the squad’s half-hearted lap of appreciation.

“Recruitment is 100% the most important factor in building a squad,” said Allardyce. “A coach might add one or two percent but it is the better and more intelligent players who make you a better coach.”

Leeds United fans react after their team is relegated from the Premier League
Leeds conceded more goals than any other team in the Premier League in 2022-23 (78), while they’re the first side to concede 75-plus in consecutive seasons in the competition (79 in 2021-22)

Defensive gifts

As the day panned out, Leeds could not have saved themselves.

However, the manner of their defeat to Tottenham summed up their season as a whole.

Needing to win, they conceded after two minutes, conceded a second two minutes into the second half and a third two minutes after Harrison had halved the deficit. While Allardyce called Leeds’ finishing “inept”, his most damning words were for the goals Leeds conceded.

“We gifted three goals,” he said. “The first one after two minutes, gifted, could have been cleared. Then we did exactly the same in the second half. We score and what do we do again?

“You would have thought they would have learned from the first two.”

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