Chinese firm Lander Sports Development is in exclusive talks with Swiss-based Katharina Liebherr, the owner of the Premier League football club Southampton, to take over the club, according to Bloomberg.
The owner has been engaged in talks for several weeks with an agreement yet to be reached, said Bloomberg. The report suggests the deal could be worth as much as 200 million pounds ($246.2 million).
An unidentified spokesman at Southampton refused to comment when contacted by China Daily.
Mark Dreyer, founder of the China Sports Insider website, which tracks trends in China’s sport industry, said: “What is particularly interesting about this deal is that Lander Sports, the potential buyer, was originally a real estate company, and then officially changed its name to Lander Sports Development last August.
“So what we are seeing is a perfect example of how the sports sector is thriving in China when companies are looking to get out of other sectors and into sports,” Dreyer commented.
The reported talks come amid a boom of Chinese investment in Western football, prompted by President Xi Jinping’s ambition to see China become a footballing superpower, following outright acquisitions of West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City.
Insiders say this deal has been floating around in Chinese sports circles for the past few weeks.
“This is the first time it’s appeared in the media, so Lander and Southampton have both been keen to keep this confidential. That, to me, looks like both sides are serious about it, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this deal go through if a price can be agreed,” Dreyer added.
Southampton, finished 6th in last year’s Premier League and currently lies in 9TH place.