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United Group’s Solak acquires Southampton FC

January 5, 2022

Dragan Solak, Serbian billionaire and founder of cable-TV operator United Group, has acquired a controlling stake in Southampton FC – the Premier League football club that currently sits 14th in the table.

Southampton have confirmed the deal which sees Sport Republic, a London-based investment firm in the sports and entertainment industry, take an 80 per cent controlling stake in the club for a reported £100 million (€119.7m).

The takeover brings an end to the majority ownership of Gao Jisheng, a Chinese businessman who bought an 80 per cent stake in the club in 2017.

Katharina Liebherr, a member of the Liebherr family business dynasty, retains her 20 per cent minority shareholding.

A club statement said: “Southampton Football Club can today confirm that Sport Republic has completed the acquisition of a controlling stake in Southampton Football Club. Sport Republic is an investment firm in the sports and entertainment industry. They have purchased the shareholding of the club held by Mr Gao and will work in partnership with Katharina Liebherr who retains her minority shareholding. Everyone within the Southampton community would like to wish Mr Gao and his family well for their future.”

Solak commented: “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. 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.”

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