red-bull-3BBC Radio Leeds’ Adam Pope is tonight reporting news that Leeds United are closing in on “multi-million pound investment” which includes the repurchase of the club’s Elland Road stadium.

There are no further details as to who the investors are, but recent speculation from the Yorkshire Evening Post has linked the club with soft drinks manufacturer Red Bull.

If the Austrian company are planning to invest in Leeds United, there’ll be some fears that a rebranding of the club may follow. Red Bull have controversially taken over several teams, including Austria Salzburg.

Salzburg were subsequently rebranded as Red Bull Salzburg, while their badge was replaced with the Red Bull logo and their team colours scrapped for those of the soft drinks giant.

Angry Salzburg fans protested the changes to no avail, ultimately breaking free to start their own club after a bitter fall-out with their club’s new owners.

While there’s nothing to say Red Bull will strip Leeds United of our identity and history, like they did at Salzburg, it’s worth considering a statement they made to Salzburg’s fans (more on which you read here).

“[Our football] concept was based on Red Bull’s overall approach to sport: Red Bull is not a sponsor in the traditional sense; it never was and never will be. Red Bull contributes its own ideas and concepts to all projects to which it is committed.

“Traditions are part of sport. But every tradition needs to grow. This takes time. Nobody can, nobody should buy themselves a tradition … Since the start of this season we have been working at creating a new tradition. This tradition cannot and will not be separated from the history of football in Salzburg. But this new tradition is not purple, because purple is not the colour of Red Bull.”

White, blue and yellow aren’t the colours of Red Bull either, will they still be Leeds’ colours if Red Bull do get involved with the club?

The statement continues in a tone so familiar, it could have been lifted from one of Ken Bates’ weekly rants;

“[Fans] are not owners; they do not carry any responsibility for the future. Therefore they have the right to be consulted, but not to make decisions. Some fans have trouble understanding this.

“99% of the fans of the ‘old’ club are also fans of Red Bull Salzburg … They realise that Red Bull has its own tradition, its own history and its own approach to football.”

That “99%” line really sticks in the throat because of how easy it is to compare to Ken Bates’ “dissident minority” rant. It all seems such a far cry from the statement our new chairman made yesterday when he said “fans are the de facto owners” of Leeds United Football Club.

We could be panicking over nothing of course. Red Bull might not be the interested party (in fact, the YEP seem to think it isn’t them), but the timing seems a little too coincidental, so for now at least, let’s assume they are.

Maybe they’re just interested in a minority ownership position and a stadium rename, neither of which I’d be the least bit averse to. You can call Elland Road the ‘Stupendous Raging Red Bull Superdome’ for all I care, it’ll still be Elland Road to me. So long as the club’s identity renames intact (name, badge, colours), I can cope with the rest. After all, the rest is part and parcel of the modern game, football clubs need big sponsorship deals to compete.

All I’m really saying is that we should heed caution so that we’re not blind-sighted if the worst case scenario (Red Bull Leeds) becomes a possibility. Celebrate, yes, but let’s make clear from the off how far we’re willing to let this Red Bull involvement go. I don’t want to support a team whose existence is less credible than MK Dons.