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Southampton finalise partnership with Chinese investors

A lengthy process aimed at securing new financial backing for Southampton has seen a partnership agreed with Chinese investors.

Southampton - cropped
Southampton's first match of the 2017-18 Premier League season

Southampton have entered into a partnership with the family of Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao.

Katharina Liebherr, who inherited the club from her late father Markus Liebherr, announced in January that the club was seeking investment to help it remain competitive in the Premier League.

Talks had originally taken place with the intention of finalising a deal between Southampton and Lander Sports, a business controlled by the Gao family.

But, according to statement released by Saints on Monday, an arrangement has instead been made between the club and the Gao family directly. 

"I am pleased to confirm that talks to bring in a new partner to our club have been concluded," Liebherr said in a letter address to the club's supporters.

"Following extensive and fruitful work, we are entering into a partnership with the Gao family and I am excited about what we will achieve together. 

"Today is the start of a new and exciting chapter for our club. Mr Jisheng Gao and his daughter, Mrs Nelly Gao, with whom I have built a close relationship, share our values and ambitions. As a team, we will strive to build upon the strong foundation that is in place towards sustainable long-term success. 

"Mr Gao, Nelly and I have full trust in Ralph Krueger and his management team. We wholeheartedly support their plans to follow the Southampton way in the years ahead. 

"But for now it is business as usual at Southampton Football Club and we must allow everyone at the club to focus on the first few weeks of the new season."

In a joint statement, Jisheng Gao said: "I am honoured and humbled to become a partner of Southampton Football Club alongside Katharina Liebherr, who, together with her father, has been such a great steward of the club, its growth and success. 

"Together, we have the passion and motivation to build on Southampton's excellent progress in recent years as we look forward to an exciting next chapter for the club."

Widespread reports in the British media indicated the Gao family had taken a controlling stake in the club, although no financial details of the deal were released. 

Southampton opened the Premier League season with a 0-0 draw at home to Swansea City in Mauricio Pellegrino's first competitive match in charge. 

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