05/01/2022; 3:55 PM By : Steven D. Thompson
It has become a norm for clubs to fall into the hands of billionaire owners. With Chelsea and Manchester City setting the pace in England, Newcastle joined the trend this season with the takeover by a Saudi Arabian backed consulting firm.
The relegation-threatened team owned by Mike Ashley had looked to sell the club before ownership finally changed hands this season.
Southampton were also in the market for a new owner, and like Mike Ashley, have found a new investor in the club.
The ownership of Southampton has changed hands, with the majority of shares sold. Sport Republic, an investment firm backed by Serbian billionaire Dragan Solak, has concluded a deal that ceded an 80% stake in the club. The takeover announcement came on Tuesday.
Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng owned an 80% stake in the club, bought in August 2017. It has now swapped hands with Solak, who owns the United Group, a telecom company.
It is, however, not a complete takeover as the remaining 20% remains with Katharina Liebherr. The club was an inheritance for Katharina Liebherr from her late father Markus in 2010 while playing in League One.
Chief executive Martin Semmens told the Southampton FC website, they had searched for a partnership to move the club forward. He described the partnership with Sport Republic as the perfect solution for the club.
Semmens describes Sport Republic as experienced investors also experienced in elite professional sports. He said it is a combination not easily found and the agreement between both parties excites him as it secures the club’s short and long-term future.
The deal that transfers majority ownership of Southampton to Sport Republic is the latest takeover of a Premier League club. It comes a few months after the acquisition of a stake in West Ham by Czech billionaire investor Daniel Kretinsky. The wave is sweeping over the league, with more interest coming from far and wide.
Dragan has completed his foray into English football after buying an 80% stake in Southampton FC. Not many people know who Solak is, and the purchase of a majority stake in Southampton comes as a surprise to many. The big question is, who is Dragan Solak?
The United group controls several telecommunications platforms and media outlets scattered across south-east Europe. Dragan Solak sits on top of these business concerns. London-based investor Henrik Kraft and former Brentfordctor of football Rasmus Ankersen is also involved in the takeover of Southampton.
Rumours suggest Sport Republic will continue to seek out investment opportunities in football clubs. Southampton is ten points above the relegation zone, placed in the 14th spot.