Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao takes over Southampton

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Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao and his family have completed a deal to buy 80% of Southampton.

In January, Gao’s company Lander Sports Development said a deal was agreed, but the takeover is now a personal investment.

“Today is the start of a new and exciting chapter for our club,” said Katharina Liebherr, who inherited Saints from her late father, Markus, in 2010 when they were in League One.

She will retain a 20% share.

Liebherr said the Gao family share Southampton’s “values and ambitions”, adding: “As a team, we will strive to build upon the strong foundation that is in place towards sustainable long-term success.”

She said both parties have “full trust” in the Premier League club’s chairman Ralph Krueger and his management team and support plans to follow the “Southampton way”.

“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.”

A spokesman for the Premier League said: “As with any change of control at a Premier League club, we have checked the sources and sufficiency of funding in place to acquire the shares, and been provided with a detailed business plan showing the new owners can sustain the club going forward.

“We have also conducted the Owners’ and Directors’ Test, which includes detailed background checks on any individual proposing to acquire more than 30% of shares in a club, or to be a director on the club’s board.”

English clubs Aston Villa, Birmingham, Wolves, Reading and West Brom already have Chinese investors, as do Italian side AC Milan, who were bought for £628m earlier this year.

In 2015, Manchester City also sold a 13% stake of the club worth £265m to a consortium of Chinese investors.

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