Southampton owners convert £33m loan into shares

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Southampton have revealed that £33m of loans invested in the club by the estate of former owner Markus Liebherr will not have to be paid back.

The money was invested in the club over the two seasons to June 2011, but has now been converted into shares, removing it as a liability.

Chief financial officer Gareth Rogers told BBC Radio Solent: "Effectively the club no longer owes that money."

Saints made a net loss of £11.5m in winning League One promotion last term.

Asked if the club no longer faced the prospect of having to repay the loan, Rogers replied: "Absolutely."

Southampton were in administration and had just been relegated to League One when Swiss businessman Liebherr bought the club in 2009.

He appointed Italian banker Nicola Cortese to run the club as executive chairman, and announced a five-year plan to return the Saints to the Premier League. Liebherr died in August 2010 but Cortese remains in charge.

Markus Liebherr
Former Southampton owner Markus Liebherr

And having guided the club into the Championship last season, and with Saints currently enjoying a five-point lead at the top of the division, manager Nigel Adkins now looks likely to achieve consecutive promotions.

Elsewhere the accounts show total revenue excluding transfers rose by 11% to £16.4m and that group wages made up 93% of turnover.

But Rogers said supporters should not be concerned about the latter figure.

"In isolation you could say it's a very scary figure, but in the context of the [five-year] plan it was expected. It includes £1.4m of one-off payments that won't re-occur."

He also acknowledged wage costs have risen in the Championship, and would rise further if the club goes into the Premier League, but insisted the figure was being carefully matched with the increase in revenues.

"The loss incurred to date is absolutely beneath what we expected, so perverse as it sounds, we're pleased with that size of loss," he said.

"I am absolutely confident fans need not be concerned about the future financial stability of the club.

"Nothing has changed operationally or strategically with Markus not being here. Nicola will drive the club forward and has every plan to do so."

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