Southampton’s hopes of multi-million pound investment from China appear to be over.
Chinese firm Lander Sports has told the stock exchange that they are scrapping their plans to invest in Saints, at least for the time being.
The statement said: "Whether the company can eventually complete the acquisition of the target firm's shares remains uncertain.
"To keep to principle of prudence, ensure the company's development remains normal and to safeguard the majority of investors' interests, the company has decided to end this major asset restructuring."
Lander had been in talks with the representatives of owner Katharina Liebherr for around a year, and had gone as far as securing an exclusivity period to complete a deal.
However, since that expired in January, optimism has dwindled at St Mary’s that a deal, which was proposed to be around £210m for a majority stake in the club, would be completed.
There has largely been silence from Lander at a time when China’s investment policy appears to be changing.
Though Chinese firms have gone through a period of investing in overseas football clubs, several recent sports deals have collapsed as the country shifts its investment focus.
Saints have always insisted that they are relaxed no matter which way the talks ended up going.
Liebherr remains committed to leading the club forward, but has indicated she is prepared to sell at least a significant stake of her ownership if the price is right, and the investors are able to take Saints forward in a way that she cannot.
In a rare statement to fans, issued in January as the Lander talk intensified, she said: “Please understand that I can only make limited comments regarding this process but I can assure you that any steps we do take will be in the best interests of the club. A potential partnership would need to clear multiple approvals and fulfil strict criteria before being confirmed.
“The Premier League is increasingly competitive; we need to keep moving forward and look to new markets for commercial growth, innovation and to share our journey. Together we have had many years of progression and success, and ensuring this continues is the main focus of any possible partnership.”