Southampton have confirmed that Sport Republic, led by Serbian-born businessman Dragan Solak, have completed a takeover of the club.
Majority shareholder Gao Jisheng, who bought an 80% stake in the club in 2017, has sold his shares for around £100m to Sport Republic, a London-based investment firm in the sports and entertainment industry.
Former Brentford co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, and London-based investor Henrik Kraft are also involved in the takeover, while minority shareholder Katharina Liebherr has retained her 20% stake at St Mary’s.
Commenting on Sport Republic’s takeover, Solak told the club’s official website: “My partners and I have experience in long-term investments in the sports and entertainment industry and Sport Republic has been founded to combine this expertise and deliver something unique to the market.
A new era at #SaintsFC 😇
We can confirm that Sport Republic has completed the acquisition of a controlling stake in Southampton Football Club.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 4, 2022
“Southampton has so many of the qualities we have been looking for in a major sports organisation. 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 CEO Martin Semmens has also reacted to the takeover, stating: “Over the last two years, together with the shareholders of our club, we have searched for the right partner to take the club forward. Today we have found the perfect solution for our club.
“Sport Republic are experienced investors, but also experienced within the world of elite professional sports. That combination is very hard to find, and we are thrilled to have reached an agreement that secures our short and long-term future.
“We are grateful for the support of Mr Gao and Katharina that allowed us to take our time, turn away the wrong options and ultimately find the right partner for the future of this great club, its fans, staff and the people of Southampton.
“Sport Republic is being built to provide a network of people, clubs, and technology that allows the clubs within it to grow every day and gain the advantages you need to be successful. As a club, we have never wanted to buy success, but to earn it. Sport Republic gives us the power to improve our operations at every level, helping us to reach for the success our staff work so hard for, and our fans crave.”
Southampton are currently sitting 14th in the Premier League table, 10 points clear of the relegation zone, with Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side hoping to retain their top-flight status for a ninth successive season.