Southampton Sold to Serbian Businessman’s Investment Firm

Southampton has been purchased by a group funded by Dragan Solak, a Serb media billionaire.

Sport Republic has purchased Gao Jisheng’s 80 percent interest in the Premier League team, according to the club.

In August 2017, Gao took control Southampton, with Katharina Liebherr, who acquired the club from her late father Markus in 2010 while they were in League One, keeping a 20% stake.

Liebherr’s minority ownership in the new arrangement will remain with her.

After being promoted to the Premier League in 2012, Saints are now 14th in the table.

Solak is the chairman and founder of the United Group media corporation, which, according to Southampton, is “a sports and entertainment investment enterprise.”

Martin Semmens, the club’s chief executive, claims they have found acceptable investors after going through a “dating procedure.”

“It is a pivotal moment in time,” he told BBC Radio Solent.

“We have reorganized our plan and set out our path and Sport Republic were the right group to take that forward as they have the same values and beliefs as us.

“It’s a bit like being on a dating process and we had to make sure we chose the right partner. Sometimes you need to go on a lot of dates to find the right partner and I think we have done that now.

“There is a lot of wealth and rich people on the market and it can be unsettling. There are also lots of people who want to get involved in football but don’t have the right resources.

“First and foremost, we were looking for good people and experienced investors – and we have found that.”

The deal with Southampton is “a cornerstone” for Solak’s organization.

“Southampton has so many of the qualities we have been looking for in a major sports organisation,” he added in a statement.

“It has a great management team, excellent talent development, talented teams playing attractive football and a dedicated fan base.

“We are delighted to be able to complete this acquisition as a first step towards execution of our investment strategy.

“Southampton will be a cornerstone of the organisation we plan to build.”

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