Leeds United again in English Premier League after 16-year exile

Leeds, England, July 18

Setting off smoke bombs within the crew’s yellow and blue, Leeds United followers celebrated exterior their Elland Road stadium after the northern English crew’s 16-year exile from the Premier League ended.

Marcelo Bielsa’s aspect secured promotion from the second-tier Championship with two video games to spare on Friday after West Bromwich misplaced to Huddersfield 2-1.

Bielsa was filmed in a tracksuit celebrating with followers close to his dwelling.

A return to the world’s richest soccer league comes a yr after a late collapse noticed the northern English crew drop to 3rd place and should undergo the playoffs the place it was overwhelmed.

“Our club, our fans and our players have sacrificed so much — we’ve been in the doldrums for 16 years,” captain Liam Cooper stated. “To be part of this team and to lead this team to promotion back to where we know we’ve always belonged is unbelievable.”

Seen as a sleeping big of English soccer, Leeds received the final of its three English league titles in 1992 — the ultimate season earlier than the inception of the Premier League — and was a Champions League semifinalist in 2001.

A monetary implosion led to Leeds being relegated from the Premier League in 2004, with money owed rising to greater than 100 million kilos (now $125 million) and fears the membership might exit of enterprise.

Leeds was compelled to promote all of its gamers and different belongings, together with the stadium academy, and stumbled from disaster to disaster beneath a succession of homeowners.

Leeds went into administration in 2007 beneath Ken Bates’ possession, which led to the crew being relegated to the third tier the place it spent three seasons. Leeds fared little higher beneath the subsequent set of homeowners, GFH Capital, earlier than the arrival of controversial Italian Massimo Cellino.

During Cellino’s chaotic three-year possession Leeds had seven totally different managers, however present proprietor Andrea Radrizzani purchased a 50% stake in Leeds in January 2017 to sign the dawning of a brand new period.

Radrizzani bought the remaining 50% from Cellino the next May.

The 49ers Enterprises funding affiliate of the San Francisco NFL crew additionally took a minority possession stake in 2018.

Leeds made a daring assertion of intent by appointing Bielsa in the summertime of 2018.

Bielsa spent seven years accountable for Argentina, guiding it to Olympic gold in 2004 and the runner-up spot within the Copa America the identical yr.

He additionally guided Chile to the 2010 World Cup, whereas Athletic Bilbao reached the Europa League last and Copa del Rey last beneath him in 2012.

After spells at Marseille, Lazio and Lille, Bielsa was competing within the second-tier at Leeds. He proved an immediate hit, reworking the identical squad he inherited into real promotion challengers in his first season.

Last season, Leeds needed to remind Bielsa of the necessity to exhibit “integrity and honesty” after apologizing to League Championship rival Derby for spying on its coaching floor.

“At an age when I’m trying to develop, he’s the perfect manager to have,” midfielder Kalvin Phillips advised the BBC.

“The Premier League is the best league in the world and, after 16 years, we’re back in there.” West Brom stays some extent forward of Brentford, which might transfer into the second automated promotion place with a win at Stoke on Saturday in its penultimate sport. — AP

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