At the end of last week, the majority shareholder of Southampton Gao Jisheng talked about his first year with the club. He was speaking back in China at a Leaders Summit in Beijing.
The Chinese businessman then went on to talk about the pressures of owning a football club and Chinese football. He explained that he did not need to work with the management team at the club as he trusts them.
Leading on from this Southampton who survived relegation on the final day of the season had Gao acknowledge that they were under pressure and had a hard time going through it.
Mr Gao then got philosophical as he went on to say “I believe a person with aspirations has three kinds of beliefs. The first kind is political belief. The second, religious beliefs—one may or may not have it. The third is career beliefs. Sports/football is my belief. My belief protects and guides me to success.”
Followers of Chinese football will know at times the football culture is something they still struggle to fully understand. We have seen in recent times big money being spent in the CSL while football further down the chain is forgotten about.
Gao then touched on this as he talked about the most apparent difference he finds between Chinese football and top football countries and leagues around the world is how connected football is at the grassroots level.
Just taking Southampton, for now, they have developed players at the grassroots level very well in recent periods which as in turn meant the club could continue to develop. This is mostly through young players coming through the youth ranks and then being sold for millions of pounds. In recent times we have seen this happen at Southampton with players such as Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Luke Shaw to name a few.
This is something the Chinese football culture are looking to develop. As they feel a close relationship with the grassroots level will help to grow the football population faster.
The last bit of the talk was then turned to the business side of the football. Aside from football is sure many of you don't enjoy. Although the way explained this was by saying “To develop football, we need to make a stew”. What this means is anyone's guess.
In all, if I was a Southampton fan I would be happy that their owner seems committed to the club and am sure he will be hoping for a better season this time out just like all the fans.