Southampton owners begin to grow network after purchasing controlling stake in Turkish side Goztepe S.K. amid ambitions to make Saints focal point of Red Bull-style football empire
- Southampton’s owners have purchased a 70 per cent stake in Goztepe S.K.
- Sport Republic have been planning to add several clubs to their portfolio
- They have ambitions to make Southampton the focal point of a football empire
- The owners bought an 80 per cent controlling stake in Southampton in January
Southampton’s owners have added the first new club to their network by purchasing a controlling stake in Turkish side Goztepe S.K.
Sportsmail reported in March how Sport Republic, the London-based firm who bought Southampton in January, were hoping to add up to two new clubs to their portfolio by the end of the summer and Turkey was one of the countries they were looking in.
And the purchase of a 70 per cent stake in Goztepe and investment in a first new club was confirmed yesterday.
Dragan Solak (left) and Rasmus Ankersen (right) took over Southampton earlier this year
The Saints have had a difficult start to the season, picking up just one point in the league
Sport Republic, led by Serbian billionaire Dragan Solak and including CEO Rasmus Ankersen plus chairman Henrik Kraft, bought a £200m, 80 per cent controlling stake in Southampton in January.
They revealed plans to make the south coast side the cornerstone of a portfolio of clubs similar to the City Football Group that Manchester City are the focal point of or the Red Bull group.
Increasing the number of clubs in their network could have multiple benefits for Southampton, including on their recruitment.
Post-Brexit, overseas players now require a Governing Body Endorsement to move to England with prospective signings needing to accumulate 15 points across six different categories to be eligible for one.
The quality of the domestic league they are playing in is one of the factors with more points awarded to players featuring in higher band leagues, based on the amount they play.
Sport Republic have ambitions to make a footballing empire focused around Southampton
Having partner clubs in would, among other benefits, enable Southampton’s owners to buy players and place them at partner clubs so they can accrue the required experience to become eligible to move to England.
Foreign clubs in Band 2, which includes the top flights in Holland, Belgium, Turkey and Portugal, were being considered by Sport Republic.
Goztepe suffered relegation to Turkey’s second tier lasts season but an instant promotion will see them return to the Super Lig and band 2.
Kraft said: ‘ We have been working on this for a long time and are very pleased that it was possible to come to an agreement.
‘The ambition of all of us at Sport Republic is to build a portfolio of high-influence stakes in football clubs and other sporting assets across the world and then use our wider portfolio of sports technology businesses to accelerate the development of those companies. We can’t wait to get started and begin implementing our strategy with Goztepe.’
Ralph Hasenhuttl has had ups and downs as manager but has been backed by the new owners
The group’s new club, Goztepe S.K., were relegated to Turkey’s second division last season
Ankersen has first-hand experience of multi-club ownership having been a co-director of football at Brentford and also chairman of Danish side Midtjylland who were owned by the Bees.
He will now also become Goztepe’s chairman and said: ‘Göztepe S.K. has a lot of potential for growth. Being the first foreign investors in Turkish football comes with extra responsibilities and attention.
‘We know it will not be without challenges, but we are committed to our long-term vision of fulfilling the potential of Göztepe. The passion for football in Turkey is truly special and we hope that our methodology and ideas can help develop Göztepe further.’