SAINTS owner Gao Jisheng has insisted that he is ‘not treating Southampton as a pig to be fattened and sold.’

In a rare interview, Saints’ majority shareholder told the Financial Times he wants the club to be self sufficient.

He 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.’”

Gao, who has an 80 per cent stake in Saints, told the FT that he remains in control of the club, despite selling his 30 per cent stake in Lander Sports Development last year, because it is owned by the unrelated Hong Kong-based Lander Sports Investment.

“General sports businesses [in China] are in great difficulty, so if you partner with a state-owned company then your resources are larger,” he said.

“I told [the Premier League], you should look at who the boss of Southampton is. The boss of Southampton is my Hong Kong company.

“Whatever happens in the mainland, Southampton’s finances do not change. The Premier League was satisfied.”

Mr Gao also revealed that Saints' new shirt sponsor, LD Sports, is a company that will launch this summer for the Chinese market.

“All companies have their own style,” he continued.

“Asians tend to be low-key. As long as the money reaches Southampton’s bank account and it’s in pounds sterling then it’s OK.”

Gao says the three-year shirt sponsorship deal is worth ‘nearly twice’ the £4.8m-per season deal with Virgin Media and that last year’s £28.6m profit means more can be spent on players than is received this summer.

“The club’s financial situation is good this year and it doesn’t require more investment,” he added.