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Southampton is latest Chinese owned club


Southampton has become the third Premier League club to receive Chinese investment.   Property magnate Jisheng Gao paid £200m (some reports say £210m) for what is believed to be a 80 per cent stake in the club, about the same amount as Paris Saint-Germain paid for Neymar.   However, it is a decent profit for the Liebherr family who bought the club for £13m in 2009.  It is a reminder that one way of making money out of a football club is through capital appreciation.

Mr Gao controls Lander Property Holdings with his daughter Nelly who was the initial contact with Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr.   The Premier League has given permission for the takeover after a lengthy scrutiny of the source of Mr Gao's funds and his plans for the club.

The Chinese Government has tightened up the regulation of foreign investment over concerns about growing capital flight and excessive borrowing being used to finance overseas deals.  However, where there is a will there is a way.  

Seriously wealthy Chinese generally have a stash of cash outside mainland China. It is believed that the so-called Southampton 'partnership' (a word increasingly being used to describe what are in fact takeovers) was funded by the Gao family's fortune in Hong Kong.  The stake was purchased on an individual basis rather than through Lander Holdings.

Since 2015, Chinese groups and individuals have spent more than $2bn on European football clubs as China seeks to become a global football power.