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Saints Rumoured To Be Up For Sale
Sunday, 8th Mar 2020 10:47

According to The Times a broker has been instructed to find a buyer for Southampton FC, but what is the truth behind this. Welcome to St Mary's for yet more turmoil.

The Times is reporting that Gao Jisheng has put his share in the club up for sale, which has led to some Saints fans of accusing him of merely buying the club to get his money out of China.

Whilst that may have an element of truth and is certainly the easy assumption, the fact is that having an owner based in China will always have issues.

Not least China's relationship with the West, a situation that changes almost on a monthly basis, when China fell out with Trump and the USA, suddenly there is an embargo on money from China being invested in the West and that causes problems.

I have been lead to believe that this caused a problem a few months ago with Gao being unable to complete an instalment of his payment to Katharina Liebherr, I was told a few weeks ago that had meant that Gao officially only had 50% of the club shares and had technically defaulted.

I was also told that this issue had been resolved and that there was now money in the club moving forward, what wasn't confirmed was whether that money was Gao's or otherwise.

So is Gao trying to sell his 80% shareholding or having allegedly defaulted and still unable to get his cash out of China is he stepping aside to allow someone else to come in and merely selling that 50% he has supposedly paid for.

Many will see this as a good thing, but that again is a simplistic attitude based solely on the fact that they would like to see a multi billionaire pump in transfer money, if Gao does go he has at least left the club in a healthy position, he hasn't used his ego to buy players we could not afford and saddled us with debt, because money put into clubs is never a gift from the owner it is always a loan, sometimes as Katharina Liebherr did the owner will wipe off that debt, but not as often as you would think.

The main problem will be finding a buyer, the second will be finding one that will be a good custodian, for every good custodian of a football club there are many others who end up dragging the club into trouble both on the pitch and off it financially.

It is better to have a well run club than have an owner seemingly pumping in millions to a club being run badly suddenly pulling out , ask Pompey fans.

So we enter another period of uncertainty, we don't know how much of the club that is being sold or indeed who is selling, are both Kat & Gao willing to sell the 100% they own between them, is it one or the other selling and indeed how much to either currently own has Gao completed the purchase of his 80% share or is it now 50/50 between them both.

There are not queues of potential owners out there, the next few weeks will be interesting, Welcome To St Mary's

Photo: Action Images



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dirk_doone added 10:59 - Mar 8
It's going to be very difficult for him to sell as Kat is going to be a massive stumbling block. She'll either want to keep her 20% or charge a disproportionate amount for it. That will put potential buyers off.
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underweststand added 11:11 - Mar 8
Lots of issues here. Gao bought the club at a time when we were in much better shape.
Since when we've had multiple managerial / player changes, some VERY poor buys and lost the last vestiges of the playing staff who looked so good 5 years ago.

Gao said from Day 1, he expected the club to be self-sustaining, and that obviously hasn't happened. Can we blame him for selling..perhaps not, but of course many people will... but from a business perspective, he probably has enough problems in China to disrupt his business activites and is likely worth a good deal less now ...than he was a month ago.

IF I had bought a business in China for £200 million and left the locals to run it ..I'd be in a bit of a panic myself just now whilst watching my own core business crash.
I'm sure that there will be some "suitors" (although I'd be a bit dubious about seeing Cortese coming back in the picture) however there other factors more concerning.

An eventual new majority owner will still only be buying 80% of the club ( Kat still owns 20%) and would they want to put in their own Board ?, or retain the existing one?..
and would they be happy to keep the same managerial staff?...
Mmmm....Quite a lot to take in based on the first day news.
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SaintPaulVW added 13:02 - Mar 8
As Gao was not hands on anyway, having an uninvolved owner selling up really won't make that much difference.

Kat's 20% could create a few issues though in finding a buyer.
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Newdawn2014 added 13:03 - Mar 8
I was unsure about Gao but tried to give him the benefit of doubt , Newsnow are quoting his " I am not a pig waiting to fatten the club etc ..."
Bacon buttie anyone ?

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1970 added 14:06 - Mar 8
Fatty wont sell her stake for anything its just too easy money so were stuck with her so business as usual no team goals or playing ambition just sell sell every season,
i noticed you mentioned the skates in your article alongside the topic of putting in more than you can afford however i beg to differ poopey never had any money they bu**sh**ed their accounts to look like they were owned by wealthy people,
Also there are lots of success models of how to run a football club which include trying to win games not just stick or bust after all we have an excellent academy we just dont maximise at all.
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VancouverSaint added 20:39 - Mar 8
I know that he has said that he is not interested in a Premier League Club but I would love to see it owned locally by Jim Radcliffe. Lives in Beaulieu and has two Yachts named “Hampshire” and is a big sports supporter.....could do a lot worse.
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SanMarco added 11:23 - Mar 9
We need to wait on and find out if there is any truth in this. The rumour says 250m so it may just be fairly standard testing of the market - like putting your house up for sale at twice the market value and hoping someone is stupid enough to buy. No astute businessman will pay 250m for an asset bought for 200m that has declined in quality since the purchase. I also think that any purchaser wanting to really do something with the club re football success would want to buy all of it.

Nick is right to the extent that it is better to have a boring level of 'astuteness' (as long as it keeps us up) above a reckless chancer or asset-stripper but as fans we will always, of course, want more.

It also pays to remember that Markus bought us when we were worth tuppence halfpenny. Any new sugar daddy needs a quarter of a billion up front + tens of millions to improve the squad - could it happen? We can but hope. That's all any supporter of a club outside the money-saturated elite can ever do!!
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LoisDeem added 11:37 - Mar 10
I hope the thread of rumour that I'm clinging onto has more than a grain of truth to it, that Gao did indeed default on payment and that another (philanthropic?) member of the Liebherr family has been considering taking on his liability. This becoming truth has an even chance of success, and is why I constantly cringe when I see and hear insulting names and statements being bandied about in the fanbase. So, as any of our fellow stripey Sunderland fans will very quickly tell you, it's not all black and white, so be careful what you wish for. Just as this sports fan believes that any Ineos connection will have more to do with improving profile and pushing -even distorting -boundaries than the enjoyment,glory and magnificence of sport -which is what I will always wish for 'my' Saints.
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