Chinese businessman Gao buys Southampton stake
Southampton have entered into a partnership with Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng, the Premier League club’s owner Katharina Liebherr announced on Monday.
“I am pleased to confirm that talks to bring in a new partner to our club have been concluded,” said Liebherr in an open letter to supporters on the club website.
“Following extensive and fruitful work, we are entering into a partnership with the Gao family and I am excited about what we will achieve together.”
Southampton did not divulge the terms of the partnership, but British press reports said Gao and his family had paid £200 million ($259.5 million, 220.3 million euros) to acquire an 80 percent stake in the club.
Liebherr inherited Southampton from her late father, Markus, in 2010.
Gao’s company, Landers Sports Development, said it had agreed a deal to buy into Southampton in January, but the new partnership is a personal investment.
“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,” said Gao.
“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.”
Liebherr said she and Gao had “full trust” in chairman Ralph Krueger and his management team and would support their plans “to follow the Southampton Way”.
Southampton are the third Premier League club to have attracted investment from China after Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion.
The south-coast club were in England’s third tier as recently as 2011, but they have been in the top flight since 2012 and reached last season’s League Cup final.
Their feted youth academy launched the careers of players including club great Matt Le Tissier, Arsenal pair Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale.
Now managed by Argentinian Mauricio Pellegrino, Southampton opened their 2017-18 campaign by drawing 0-0 at home to Swansea City on Saturday.
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