Sport Republic acquires ownership of Southampton Football Club

Sport Republic purchased purchased an 80 per cent stake in Saints, formerly owned by Jisheng Gao. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Southampton has confirmed that Sport Republic, a London-based investment firm, has acquired a controlling stake in the football club.

The company has purchased the shareholding of the club held by Mr Gao, who purchased an 80 per cent stake in Saints in 2017.

Katharina Liebherr will retain her minority shareholding.

Southampton's CEO, Martin Semmens, is set to continue running the day-to-day operations of the club, with the new owners saying they will 'not be starting any revolutions'.

Sport Republic was founded by Henrik Kraft and Rasmus Ankersen and backed by Lead Investor Dragan Šolak.

The firm says its vision is to "apply proprietary intelligence and data analytics to help sports businesses and sports technology companies reach their full potential."

It has not been confirmed how much the company paid to acquire the shares in Saints.

Martin Semmens, CEO of Southampton Football Club, said, “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."

A general view of St Mary's Stadium Credit: PA Images

Commenting on the agreement, the Lead Investor of Sport Republic, Dragan Šolak, said:

“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.”

The Chairman of Sport Republic, Henrik Kraft, added:

“We will be an active and engaged owner, but we will not be starting any revolutions. We were attracted to Southampton because it is already a well-run club that follows a clearly defined strategy.

“Southampton’s CEO Martin Semmens will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the club, and Sport Republic will be working closely with him and his team to help the club grow.

“Whilst Southampton is Sport Republic’s first acquisition, we expect more investments to follow over the coming years. Our ambition is to build a portfolio of high-influence stakes in football clubs and other sporting assets across the world."