Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao snaps up 80 per cent stake in Southampton
Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao has purchased an 80 per cent stake in Southampton, Press Association Sport understands.
It was confirmed by the club on Monday that Gao and his family had concluded talks with Saints owner Katharina Liebherr to become partners in the Premier League outfit.
The deal has been struck privately with Gao rather than through his company Lander Sports Development, who had previously been in discussions.
Liebherr confirmed the partnership with a statement released to Southampton supporters on Monday afternoon.
"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.
"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.
"As a team, we will strive to build upon the strong foundation that is in place towards sustainable long-term success."
While no figure or percentage stake was officially announced in the statement, it is understood Gao and his family now own 80 per cent of the south-coast club.
Liebherr went on to suggest that chairman Ralph Krueger, and other members of staff in place at St Mary's, will continue to operate in their current capacity.
"Mr Gao, Nelly and I have full trust in Ralph Krueger and his management team. We wholeheartedly support their plans to follow the Southampton Way in the years ahead," she added.
"But for now it is business as usual at Southampton Football Club and we must allow everyone at the club to focus on the first few weeks of the new season.
"I would like to thank the passionate supporters of the club for their ongoing loyalty and faith, and I look forward to seeing you soon at St Mary's. We March On."
Gao has been looking to complete a deal to become part of the Southampton hierarchy for some time and now wants to move the club further forward.
"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, with new manager Mauricio Pellegrino at the helm, started the season with a 0-0 draw at home to Swansea on Saturday.
The club also announced the signing of goalkeeper Jack Rose earlier on Monday with the former West Brom stopper penning a one-year contract.