Southampton become seventh Chinese-owned club in England after majority takeover by Jisheng Gao

Frank Dalleres
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Southampton v Swansea City - Premier League
Southampton have become an established top-flight side under the Liebherr family (Source: Getty)

Southampton have become the seventh major English club to come under Chinese ownership after they confirmed a long-anticipated deal with businessman Jisheng Gao.

Gao is believed to have paid around £210m for an 80 per cent stake in the Premier League team, with Katharina Liebherr retaining 20 per cent ownership.

Gao had previously held talks about investing in Southampton via his company Lander Sports Development and announced in June that he had received clearance from league chiefs to proceed.

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“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,” he said.

“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 follow top-flight rivals West Brom, Championship sides Aston Villa, Birmingham, Reading and Wolves and League One team Northampton in being bought by Chinese investors. China Media Capital also owns a 13 per cent stake in Manchester City.

Southampton have risen from the third tier and the brink of extinction to become an aspirational Premier League team under the Liebherr family, who took over in 2009.

Katharina Liebherr, who inherited the Saints when her father Markus died in 2010, insisted the takeover would not affect the running of the club.

“I am pleased to confirm that talks to bring in a new partner to our club have been concluded,” she said.

“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.

“As a team, we will strive to build upon the strong foundation that is in place towards sustainable long-term success. Mr Gao, Nelly and I have full trust in [chief executive] Ralph Krueger and his management team. We wholeheartedly support their plans to follow the Southampton way in the years ahead.”

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