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German tax probe could force Saints sale

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The pressure on Katrien Liebherr to sell Southampton could increase as a result of an investigation by the German tax authorities.   The public prosecutor's office is investigating the tax liability of her late father, Markus Liebherr.

The German authorities are investigating whether they could impose taxes on the beneficiaries of his estate after allegations that he spent more time in Germany than was previously realised.   There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of his daughter, but as she was the biggest beneficiary, any retrospective tax bill would have implications for her.

The club, with a valuation of £200m, constitutes Liebherr's biggest asset in a portfolio worth an estimated £300m and a large tax bill would increase the pressure to sell.   It is possible to envisage a scenario in which she had to sell for a knockdown price.

Liebherr has been seeking new investment in the club for over a year and negotiations over a proposed £190m sale to Lander Sports Development are continuing.   However, the Premier League has expressed concerns about allegations of corruption in China against the owner, Gao Jisheng.