Is Red Bull coming to Leeds?
Red Bull is rebutting claims that it’s set to take over Championship football team Leeds United. Reports suggest the energy drinks brand is willing to shell out some £60 million for the troubled club which is owned by controversial Italian businessman Massimo Cellino, who is currently serving a Football League ban. Dire though life has been for Leeds fans in recent years, they might not want to be part of the Red Bull sporting empire, says Steve Mullins.
The brand already boasts two European football clubs in its portfolio in the shape of German second division club Red Bull Leipzig and Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg (along with New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Brazil and Red Bull Ghana). While Salzburg has the honour of calling itself reigning Austrain champions, Leipzig is flying the banner of ‘most-hated team in Germany’.
Red Bull Leipzig was created pretty much as a brand vehicle by Red Bull back in 2009 and has been treated as a corporate asset ever since. German football remains - unlike in England – a largely community-based sport, though Red Bull Leipzig had no club membership scheme in place until last year when the football authorities threatened Leipzig with revoking its second-division licence.
Did we say ‘most-hated’? Red Bull Leipzig got the 15-minutes-of-silence treatment from rival Union Berlin spectators when the two sides met last autumn. And vocal fans handed out black ponchos at the turnstiles, and a leaflet entitled, ‘Football culture is dying in Leipzig – Union is alive’.
Despite the vitriol, the club isn’t going away any time soon, though. When Red Bull first got involved, the brand’s chief Dietrich Mateschitz said bullishly "we are used to meeting our objectives and we hope this will also be the case with RB Leipzig’.