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Swiss takes over Southampton football club

Swiss investor Markus Liebherr has saved Southampton football club from administration after completing a takeover deal for the troubled English team.

This content was published on July 9, 2009 - 11:39

Liebherr, who runs the Mali Group consortium of companies specialising in transport technology, stepped in at the 11th hour to stop administrators winding up the club.

Liebherr told BBC radio that he would restructure the club that won the 1976 FA Cup and enjoyed a 27-year run in the English top division until 2005. "We will act rapidly but also plan for the long term, because I am here for the long term," he said.

Southampton, nicknamed the Saints, were relegated to the English third division at the end of last season after being docked points because its parent company went bust. The club was placed in the hands of administrators and several other takeover bids had fallen through in the past few months.

Joint administrator Mark Fry said Liebherr was attracted to "the club's rich sporting heritage, loyal fan base, first-class stadium and training facilities and the potential for the Saints to regain their rightful place in the higher echelons of English football".

Former Swiss international football player, now businessman, Ramon Vega launched an unsuccessful bid to take over Southampton's south coast rival Portsmouth earlier this year.

A number of Swiss football players, including Philipp Degen, Valon Behrami and Johan Djourou, ply their trade in the English top flight.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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