Southampton FC sells 80% stake

15 Aug 2017

By: Sport Industry Group

Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao and his family have completed a deal to become the majority owner of Premier League side, Southampton.

Current owner Katharina Liebherr, who inherited the club from her late father in 2010 when the club was in League One, will retain a 20% stake in the club.

Reports suggest that Gao bought the stake for £200m, ending 12 months of talks between the Gao family and the club. The investment is being made personally by Gao and his daughter as opposed to being sanctioned through Lander Sports, as originally proposed.

Lander Sports had Premier League approval for the takeover in June, but talks faltered due to the Chinese government being unwilling to grant permission to transfer the funds overseas.

In a statement, Liebherr said: “As a team we will strive to build upon the strong foundation that is in place towards sustainable long-term success.

“Today is the start of a new and exciting chapter for our club. Mr Jisheng Gao and his daughter, Mrs Nelly Gao, with whom I have built a close relationship, share our values and ambitions. Mr Gao, Nelly and I have full trust in Ralph Krueger [the Southampton chairman] and his management team. We wholeheartedly support their plans to follow ‘the Southampton way’ in the years ahead.”

Gao added: “I am honoured and humbled to become a partner of Southampton Football Club alongside Katharina Liebherr, who, together with her father, has been such a great steward of the club, its growth and success.

“Together, we have the passion and motivation to build on Southampton’s excellent progress in recent years as we look forward to an exciting next chapter for the club.”

Southampton is the latest club to secure Chinese investment, with a growing number of English clubs - including Aston Villa, Birmingham, Wolves, Reading and West Brom - already working with Chinese investors, as well as Italian side AC Milan.

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