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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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wessexman added 00:22 - Jun 10
There are those who take whatever the club says as gospel. There are those who don't. Unlike the author of this article, I do not for one minute pretend I have any insight into the thinking of our owner. I do know we survived two seasons where relegation looked inevitable. I dare say our luck will run out if we continue to treat the Premiership with contempt. But, this coming season we shall see whether our owner is the real deal or something else. After the last 2 1/2 seasons...are we not entitled to feel a degree of scepticism or cynicism.
-1

SaintNick added 10:57 - Jun 10
As the author I have never taken anything that the club has said as gospel, what I have done however is judge everything that is done on its own merits, I have no problem with those who say "Wait & See" but sadly most tend to accuse Gao and for that matter virtually everyone else involved with the club with misdemeanours with no previous evidence to suggest that they will take that route

You are right you dont have any insight of the thinking of the owner, neither do I, only he and those close to him know what his intentions are, so all we can do is look at what he has done so far, he hasnt taken any money out of the club, he spent £60 million last summer when he could have taken a large chunk of the money received from the Van Dijk deal etc.

You are not right when yo say you are entitled to feel a degree of cynicism, Gao is the new owner, he now has a new men in the boardroom, he has a new manager, he should be judged on his merits not the merits of those who went before, he is entitled to have the fans support him until he shows them a reason why they shouldnt, otherwise we can never go forward as a club we will always be weighed down with the past and never be able to let it go
.
2

helpineedsomebody added 12:05 - Jun 10
1
the same businness system since southampton football club 1st formed in 1885

2 there are 2 certainties in life the 2nd one is that SFC at all cost must STAY in the EPL OR if the club are out of the EPL the owner would have to invest out of his own bank account & how long would that be sustainable.

3 i as asaints fan i have no problem with that / get the right staff running the club then we all win

but i would like to see the club
A upgrade st marys as soon as possible to 50 OOO all seater you would get your investment back within 5 seasons
if i was the owner i would speculate to accumalate
B i know every body says but how do you upgrade st marys when we simply do not fill every home game its BECOUSE ITS THE COST OF TICKETS PLAIN & SIMPLE

C in the nexy 6 seasons if sky break in to INDIA/ CHINA / AMERICA all EPL clubs will be getting not 1 hundred million pounds per season but 1 BILLION POUNDS PER SEASON what the hell are the clubs going to do then / plead more povety



2

wessexman added 13:24 - Jun 10
SaintNick,

It is entirely possible to turn up week in, week out supporting the team, home and away and be critical of the way the club is run. Time and time again, we are told to get behind the team and stop bellyaching. Yet, with attending live EPL becoming ever more expensive, I think we are bound to get more critical. The highlight of the last two seasons have both come when the final whistle blew on these campaigns and the relief of staying up. Faith and loyalty are part of any true fan's DNA but it is not inexhaustible.....as are his finances. I would like to see a campaign where we are well clear of danger and maybe see a cuprun. I would like to see a period of stability. I would very much like to see regular fan forums as we did last season. Unfortunately, all we can do is wait and see and hope the club start heading in the right direction. Like every other club, we are now at the mercy of our foreign owner.....for better or for worse.

3

WanderingSaint added 13:38 - Jun 10
"Gao, who has an 80 per cent stake in Saints worth around £1.6m..." I know we're not Man City or anything, but surely SFC is worth more than £2M?!
2

BoondockSaint added 16:56 - Jun 10
Yeah, WanderingSaint, it must be a typo as Wikipedia has Liebherr paying 13-15 million (either that, or we are in worse shape than we thought!)

Rest of the article is nothing new. He seems to like the idea of owning an English football team, and as long as he is not losing money, he's happy enough.

I guess we were all hoping he was going to say "I'm sick and tired of those smug B@st@rds in the Top Six! I'm here to knock them off their perches!"

Oh, well, it's nice to dream.
2

bstokesaint added 13:23 - Jun 11
I don’t think Gao says anything that I wouldn’t expect him too. I could win the Euromillions, buy the club (for £160m I’m guessing) and then just tell everyone at the club to crack on and support themselves. It doesn’t feel like progress and I’d actually feel guilty that I couldn’t take the club to the next level. It’s a bit underwhelming really, but if he really does keep us out of debt and the manager can get us back up to around mid table, that’d be some sort of improvement.
2


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