Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear says the club’s “vision” is to return to the Champions League after reaching their “base camp” by securing promotion to the Premier League.
The West Yorkshire club’s return to the top flight after 16 years was confirmed on Friday as West Brom lost to Huddersfield, before Brentford’s defeat to Stoke on Saturday ensured the Championship title.
Leeds played in European competition for five consecutive seasons between 1998 and 2003, reaching the Champions League semi-finals in 2001, and Kinnear believes a return to such heights is realistic.
“Whilst we’re celebrating, whilst we’re all very excited, we’ve got back to where we belong. This really is base camp for Leeds United,” said Kinnear, who was appointed by Leeds in 2017.
“Leeds United shouldn’t be a Championship side, they should be a Premier League side, so really the challenge starts now and it’s about competing in the PL.
“Now it’s going to be really about building on that and making sure that over the next few years we start to compete at the level Leeds should be competing in, which ultimately is the top six, and that’s always been our aim.
“Leeds should have a Premier League team. Candidly, Leeds should have a Champions League team and that’s the vision.”
‘Bielsa has fallen in love with the club’
Head coach Marcelo Bielsa has overseen Leeds return to the top flight, ensuring they bounced back after suffering a play-off semi-final defeat to Derby last year in his debut campaign.
The former Argentina manager had already established himself as a hugely popular figure with the club’s fanbase, largely thanks to the expansive playing style he has implemented at Elland Road.
The 64-year-old’s current contract expires at the end of the season, but Kinnear is confident an extension will be agreed with owner Andrea Radrizzani and sporting director Victor Orta.
“Victor, Andrea and I will be straight in with Marcelo next week and talking about plans for next season,” Kinnear said.
“He has a review, he knows the direction he wants to take the club in and it will go from things we need on the playing side, right through to changes he wants to be made at Thorp Arch and in the backroom staff, and obviously his own personal arrangements as well we need to resolve.
“The challenge with Marcelo is his intentions are always a bit of a mystery because he’s always focused on the next game and you’re a brave man to try to distract him from the task of the next match.
“I think he’s fallen in love with the club. I think he’s committed to it.”
‘We’re working on transfer targets’
With the 2020-21 Premier League season expected to start in mid-September, clubs will have just seven weeks after the completion of the current campaign to strengthen their squads.
The Premier League have confirmed that the summer transfer window will run from July 27 to October 5, with an additional domestic-only window added to run until October 16.
Kinnear admits that the shortened window is a bigger challenge for promoted sides, who will need make improvements, but he is confident in the current squad and believes the club can benefit from its global fanbase and commercial potential.
“We know we need to strengthen. Targets have been identified. We’re working on them already, we’re working on them now – today it’s started in earnest. And (we know) that recruitment is going to be the biggest challenge because the window is so short,” Kinnear said.
“If you look at our business model, the size of our fanbase means that we can generate commercial revenues in the top third of the Premier League teams.
“With the TV money being fairly evenly spread other than the performance related element, it means we immediately have a competitive advantage if we can harness that fanbase and use those resources to compete in the transfer market.
“I think next year the team will go out every week and play swashbuckling, attacking football, will show absolutely no fear, will show no team any respect. We’re not going to be scared and I think we’ll give Leeds supporters another year they can be proud of.”
This content was originally published here.