Southampton’s hopes of a multi-million pound investment from China are not yet dead in the water.
The Daily Echo understands that talks between representatives of club owner Katharina Liebherr and potential Chinese investors are still underway, despite the shock announcement earlier in the week which had appeared to end the prospect of a deal.
While Lander Sports announced they are out of the running for Saints, their parent company, Lander Holdings, are still attempting to get a deal done.
It is believed that Liebherr has agreed in principle to sell Lander an 80 per cent stake in the club in exchange for around £210m.
Liebherr would retain the other 20 per cent in order to ensure not only a smooth transition but also to retain a say in things until she is totally satisfied the time is right for her to exit. At that stage she would sell her remaining stake to Lander.
Confusion has reigned since the announcement to the Chinese stock exchange by Lander Sports, which took St Mary’s by surprise.
In their statement, Lander Sports appeared to kill off their interest in Saints, citing Chinese market conditions amongst other things.
Interestingly, that announcement came six months after Lander Sports first announced the restructuring that would take place due to their interest in buying a significant stake in Saints.
That move required them to suspend share trading for a six month period.
Lander Holdings Group, of which the sports division is a subsidiary, deals in real estate, hotel investment and management and software development, and is not listed on the stock exchange.
The company is headed by Gao Jisheng, the 64-year-old founder of Lander who is estimated to be worth around $1.5bn.
Saints are seeking reassurance from Lander over the position of the deal, though, as you would logically expect, the discussions are not taking place with the club itself.
Instead, the talks have been between intermediaries of Liebherr and Lander.
Though any deal is far from certain, it suddenly looks far more likely than earlier this week when St Mary’s was stunned by the statement to the stock exchange.
It 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."
Saints are in no position to comment on the matter given the talks are with Liebherr, and the owner, who inherited the club from her late father Markus, has issued just one statement on the matter.
In it 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."