Southampton bought by Serbian businessman in 100 million pound deal

Premier League club Southampton have been bought by a holding company controlled by Serbian media tycoon Dragan Solak in a deal worth 100 million pounds.

The Sport Republic group, which is headed by Solak, takes over Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng’s 80% stake in the club. Katharina Liebherr will retain her 20% minority stake.

Who is Dragan Solak?

Solak is chair of the United Group, which controls a number of telecommunications platforms and mass media outlets across south-east Europe. London-based investor Henrik Kraft and former Brentford director of football Rasmus Ankersen are also said to be involved in the new ownership of Southampton.

The Saints have been seeking new owners for months, with a lot of fans having criticised Gao’s lack of spending, and now they have become the first club to have a takeover approved by the Premier League since a government-commissioned report called for greater scrutiny into such deals.

It is believed that Solak’s Sport Republic group will continue to look for football clubs across the world to invest in, aiming to create global partnerships, much like Manchester City’s owners have done. Solak has said that he sees Southampton as a central part of that plan.

“Southampton have so many of the qualities we have been looking for in a major sports organisation,” said Solak.

“It has a great management team, excellent talent development, talented teams playing attractive football and a dedicated fan base.

“We are delighted to be able to complete this acquisition as a first step towards execution of our investment strategy. Southampton will be a cornerstone of the organisation we plan to build.”

Southampton are currently 14th in the Premier League, 10 points above the relegation zone, and have one win in their last eight games. The first game under the new ownership will be Saturday’s FA Cup tie away to Swansea.

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