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Southampton put up for sale by Gao Jisheng

A Southampton fan walks past the club crest outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albion at St Mary's Stadium on September 17, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Premier League football club Southampton has been put up for sale by its majority owner Gao Jisheng, the Chinese businessman.

Gao, who owns 80 per cent of the club’s shares, is seeking a total valuation for the club of £250m ($450m/€288m), a similar value as that when he bought his stake from Swiss owner Katharina Liebherr in August 2017.

UK newspaper The Sunday Times reported Gao has instructed several brokers to seek a buyer.

Gao was forced to sell a stake in his Lander Sports Development company to the Chinese government after losses in 2018. However, he has said there were “no problems” with his financial situation.

In an interview with the Financial Times last year, Gao said: “I am not treating Southampton as a pig to be fattened and sold. I am treating it as a child. But my children must believe they cannot depend on the boss.

“I have said to Southampton: ‘I am now your father. But I am putting you on the right track — you need to feed yourself.’ ”

Southampton made a profit of £28.6m in the 2017-18 season. The Sunday Times reported that its results for 2018-19. to be reported this month, will be “considerably less healthy”.

The team has finished 17th and 16th in the Premier League in the last two seasons.