Daily Echo:

At around 3.10pm on Monday, Saints fans ran through a whole gamut of emotions.

As the club confirmed that Jisheng Gao and his family had ‘partnered’ with Saints and Katharina Liebherr – in real terms paying her £210m for 80 per cent of the club – the rollercoaster started immediately.

A sense of surprise, delight, excitement, pride, sadness and uncertainty took hold, one after the other.

Surprise because a deal that seemed to be dead was completed, though to be precise the deal with Gao’s company, Lander, which had been in the melting pot for over a year did die, but he personally stepped into the breach to fund this audacious move.

Delight and excitement because it is a new chapter in the club’s history. Nobody knows what it will hold but this could be the first full day of something truly transformative.

Pride as Saints were the target of this purchase, not some other club, but they, the fans, the culture, all of it meant Gao felt compelled to put his money on the line to get involved.

Sadness as while one door opens another starts to close. Katharina Liebherr retains 20 per cent of the club, but certainly the Liebherr influence now diminishes and fades into the background.

Her late father, Markus, is celebrated amongst the most exulted of names associated with the club for buying Saints out of administration in 2009 and starting the comeback before his untimely death.

And, inevitably, uncertainty.

There are more questions than answers provided by the statement issued by the club on behalf of Katharina Liebherr.

What we do know is that Gao and his daughter Nelly who, as the Daily Echo previously revealed has struck up a close friendship with Katharina, are funding the deal from family capital.

This has been a long winded process. The negotiations for a deal with Gao’s Lander company were completed around six months ago.

However, the well-publicised difficulty in Chinese firms being able to finance major overseas purchases meant the money was not forthcoming.

In the end it is believed that Gao simply lost patience, didn’t want to lose this chance, and so took the brave decision to front up the cash himself.

Given the difficulty of obtaining information from China it is hard to be sure of his estimated wealth, but several reliable sources have plumped for around £1.5bn.

If that is correct this deal consumes about 13 per cent of his wealth, so is certainly not a minor footnote in his empire.

So what exactly does Gao want with Saints?

It’s the burning question that nobody seems to have the answer to just yet.

Gao is clearly an extremely wealthy man, but given the level of this investment just to buy most of the club it seems unlikely he is going to start pouring the cash in.

Perhaps there could be more investment than under Liebherr, whose comparatively modest wealth in the low hundreds of millions meant she could not afford to lavish out on players given the size of deals at the top level.

But, even so, all the noises around St Mary’s are that it will be, as the statement put it, ‘business as usual.’

The talk at the club is that this move secures the financial future of Saints – certainly they are now virtually debt free as the loans Liebherr put into the club have been repaid as part of the deal - but don’t expect Saints to start competing for mega money star players in the remaining fortnight of this transfer window.

All the early indications are that Saints will follow a similar business model to the one they have had under Liebherr, where they have tried to move away from being reliant on her handouts.

In a remarkable turn of events, the club really looks the same at the top despite what is in effect a change of ownership.

The relatively new look top level strategic board of chairman Ralph Krueger alongside Les Reed and Martin Semmens continues to take charge, as they did under Liebherr.

Below that is a management board, which is still being pieced together and runs the club on a day-to-day basis.

If and how the Gao family involvement changes any of this, any policy, any direction, is impossible to say at this stage.

Surely they have bought it for more than the pleasure of owning it and taking a backseat while somebody else runs it as was.

Surely they want to see a brave new world, perhaps large scale off field development, maybe great new players on the pitch, and you would assume they will not just want to waste their money and will be looking for a return on investment.

To achieve that you would think they would need to speculate to accumulate.

All the indications are that the huge increases in valuations of Premier League football clubs thanks to the mega TV rights deals will dampen somewhat. The new TV deal when it is negotiated is expected to see much more modest growth.

That means that without something changing, Saints are surely somewhere near their peak valuation.

So either the Gao family don’t really care about the money and that’s not why they are in it, or they see a way to take Saints on a stage further than they currently are, either via lavish investment or more prudent methods.

Certainly if they want to know how to make money out of a football club and enjoy yourself along the way they can take lessons from the Liebherrs.

When Markus bought the club it was put to me by those close to him at the time that he saw it as a ten year project.

He would turn it around, have some fun, and then sell and make a profit. A hobby and a business venture combined. Job done.

Certainly this deal is remarkable for Katharina.

Over their ownership the Liebherrs spent around £69m on Saints.

Markus was responsible for about £15m – mainly connected to the original purchase of the club out of administration.

Katharina sanctioned the remainder of around £54m, writing off some of it as equity in the club with the rest sitting on the books as loans which she never asked to be repaid.

Those loans are now gone, and the Liebherr profit from this deal equates to £141m.

Though you can squabble over the technicality of whether this is a partnership or a takeover, Katharina still retains a 20 per cent stake in the club which at this valuation is worth more than £50m.

All of this talk of individual wealth and profit is well and good for the owners, but the supporters will want to know what they get from all this – not personally of course but how the club as a whole benefits.

That is the uncertainty of the situation, but also part of the excitement, and we will find out in due course as the Saints rollercoaster takes another twist.