The Thoughts Of Chairman Gao
Sunday, 9th Jun 2019 21:30
Gao Jisheng has broken his silence and given a rare interview and talked about his intentions for Saints the the Financial Times.
Saints fans have been wary of Gao Jisheng since he became the majority shareholder and as such de facto owner of Southampton Football Club.
But those who have been questioning him have been unfair, in the almost two years he has been involved he has not done anything much different and run the club in pretty much the same way it has been since early 2014 when Katharina Liebherr was forced to wrest control from then Chairman Nicola Cortese who was refusing to run the club in the way her late Father would have wished.
Gao has told the Financial Times that he wants the club to be self sufficient and indeed that was the plan Marcus Liebherr had for the club from the day he took charge.
“I am not treating Southampton as a pig to be fattened and sold. He said
“I am treating it as a child. But my children must believe they cannot depend on the boss. I have said to Southampton: ‘I am now your father. But I am putting you on the right track: you need to feed yourself.’”
Gao, who has an 80 per cent stake in Saints worth around £1.6m, told the FT that he remains in control of the club, despite selling his 30 per cent stake in Lander Sports Development last year, because it is owned by the unrelated Hong Kong-based Lander Sports Investment.
“General sports businesses [in China] are in great difficulty, so if you partner with a state-owned company then your resources are larger,”
“I told [the Premier League], you should look at who the boss of Southampton is. The boss of Southampton is my Hong Kong company.
“Whatever happens in the mainland, Southampton’s finances do not change. The Premier League was satisfied.”
Mr Gao also revealed that Saints' new shirt sponsor, LD Sports, is a company that will launch this summer for the Chinese market.
“All companies have their own style,” he continued.
“Asians tend to be low-key. As long as the money reaches Southampton’s bank account and it’s in pounds sterling then it’s OK.”
Gao says the three-year shirt sponsorship deal is worth ‘nearly twice’ the £4.8m-per season deal with Virgin Media and that last year’s £28.6m profit means more can be spent on players than is received this summer.
“The club’s financial situation is good this year and it doesn’t require more investment,”
In truth Gao is saying nothing different than Katharina Liebherr had been saying prior to selling her stake to Gao, some Saints fans have been quick to question Gao, but the truth is that he has sat back and looked at the way the club has been run and now after getting his feet under the table is starting to impose his way of doing things a little more.
This has been a good strategy and those Saints fans who have jumped down his throat should hang back and see what he intends before criticising him.
The Premier League has changed a lot even since we finished 6th 3 years ago and we have to face some harsh realities as do most other clubs who are not in the Big Six.
It is clear though that Saints are now looking to expand and grow the club though sveral different areas including forging links with other countries, not just his own native China but Japan and the USA to name nut two more.
Now no one can complain that he has not said anything.
He has confirmed several key points.
1, The club is not being fattened up to be sold at a profit.
2. It will be run as a business and he is the owner
3. Profits will be invested back into the playing side where needed
4. Money will be spent this summer
5 The commercial department at the club is crucial and is bringing in corporate clients
6. The clubs financial situation is good.
So now having been told this we need to concentrate on supporting the club, that does not mean that we should not take the club to task in areas when it needs to be questioned, but we should judge things on their own merits and not conduct witch hunts where there is no evidence.
Photo: Action Images
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