Premier Leagues’s Southampton is on the market less than three years after Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng purchased a majority stake in the club.
According to Sunday Times, more than one broker has been invited to find a buyer for the Saints at a £250 million ($322 million) asking price.
Gao Jisheng, a real estate tycoon, bought 80 per cent of Southampton for UK£210 million (US$275 million) from previous owner Katherina Liebherr in August 2017. So, finding a buyer at his asking price would allow the Chinese investor to leave English football at a sum similar to the amount previous owner.
Yet the club failed to replicate their success in the last three years as they has been prior to the Chinese takeover.
Southampton finished last two seasons in the 17th and 16th places, flirting with relegation in both cases, with disappointing performances on the pitch reflecting on the financial returns.
Sunday Times reported that Southampton’s profit in the 2018-19 season will be “considerably less healthy” than the £28.6m the club declared last March.
Gao’s Shenzen-listed Lander Sports Development company reported a loss in 2018, leading him to sell a reported 30 per cent stake to a state-owned asset manager in March 2019, fueling speculation he would also want to sell Southampton.
Yet the the Chinese investor insisted last year that there were “no problems” with his financial situation.
He told the Financial Times: “I am not treating Southampton as a pig to be fattened and sold. 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 youself’.”