Complete takeover of Southampton by Sport Republic, Serbian businessman Dragan Solac.

Southampton has announced that Sport Republic, a London-based investment firm, has taken ownership of the Premier League club.

Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng decided to sell his 80 percent stake to the group led by Dragan Solak, a Serbian businessman.

Katharina Liebherr is a minority shareholder. Her dad Markus saved Saints in 2009 from bankruptcy. She will keep her 20% stake.

Saints was close to being taken over last year by a rival group, but the deal collapsed at the eleventh hour.

Alan Pace, Burnley owner, also tried to buy the Clarets from the south coast club but was turned down.

“Over the past two years, together as the shareholders of the club, we searched for the right partner in order to move the club forward. “Today we have found the perfect partner for our club,” Martin Semmens, CEO, said.

“Sport Republic is an experienced investor, but also has extensive experience in the world of elite professional sport. This combination is rare and we are delighted to have reached an agreement that will secure our long-term and short-term future.

“We are grateful to Mr Gao’s and Katharina’s support that allowed us take our time and reject the worst options in order to find the right partner for this club, its fans and the people of Southampton.

“Today, we welcome a fresh start with a new ownership group. We found partners who are ambitious for the future but have a clear understanding about Southampton’s values and where we need to go.

Early reports indicated that Saints would be one of several clubs owned by the same group, in a Red Bull-style multiclub system.

Southampton currently sit 14th in Premier League, 10 points above the zone of relegation.

After being promoted back-to-back, the club has been in the Premier League ever since 2012. They finished sixth in 2015/16 under Ronald Koeman.

Solak, lead investor in Southampton, stated in a statement that “Southampton has so much of the qualities we have wanted in a major sporting organisation.”

It has a strong management team, great talent development, talented football teams, and a loyal fan base. As a first step in our investment strategy, we are thrilled to have completed this acquisition. Southampton will be the foundation of the organization we are building.”

Sport Republic was founded in 2012 by Henrik Kraft, Rasmus Ankersen and Brentford’s co-director of football.

Since 2015, he held the position and was responsible for the promotion to Premier League. He also served as chairman at FC Midtjylland in Denmark.