Southampton admit need for 'new markets' amid Chinese investment talk

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Southampton have underlined the importance of staying financially competitive in the Premier League following talk of an agreement with Chinese investors.

Lander Sports Development, a stadium construction firm, released a statement to the Chinese Stock Exchange on Thursday claiming that they had agreed to buy a stake in Southampton's holding company for an undisclosed fee.

Although the Premier League club insist that any potential deal "would need to clear multiple approvals" before it can be confirmed, owner Katharina Liebherr made it clear that exploring investment opportunities is vital for their future in the top flight.

"I am writing to you in relation to an announcement made in China today about Southampton Football Club and Lander Holding," she said in an open letter to supporters.

"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. 

"I cannot thank you enough for the continued support you give Southampton Football Club, and it makes me so proud to think we will soon be experiencing a major final together at Wembley. I hope you enjoy what will be a brilliant day for our club and look forward to a successful future together."

The news of the proposed investment deal emerged shortly after a 1-0 win at Anfield secured Southampton's place in the EFL Cup final with a 2-0 aggregate victory over Liverpool.

Companies and individuals from China have significantly increased their interests in English football in recent years, thanks largely to the encouragement of president Xi Jinping.

Midlands clubs Aston Villa, West Brom, Wolves and Birmingham City are all backed by investors from the country.

In November last year, the Premier League agreed a three-year broadcast deal in China that could reportedly be worth as much as $700million.