The Dane was Brentford’s co-director of football for almost seven years alongside Phil Giles, overseeing their rise into the top flight of English football for the first time in 74 years, but is now looking to build a network of football clubs around the world.
Ankersen, 38, left the west London club to setup sports investment firm, Sport Republic, which has today purchased a majority stake in Southampton. Sport Republic, backed by Serbian billionaire Dragan Šolak, have purchased an 80 per cent stake from former owner, Gao Jinsheng for £200million. The Chinese businessman has been looking to sell his stake in the club for almost two years.
Former Bees man Ankersen founded Sport Republic with chairman Henrik Kraft, as the group look to build a data-driven network of clubs and sports brands across the globe, of which – they say – Southampton will be the cornerstone.
“We will be an active and engaged owner, but we will not be starting any revolutions,” said Kraft following the takeover. “We were attracted to Southampton because it is already a well-run club that follows a clearly defined strategy.
“Southampton’s CEO Martin Semmens will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the club, and Sport Republic will be working closely with him and his team to help the club grow.
“Whilst Southampton is Sport Republic’s first acquisition, we expect more investments to follow over the coming years. Our ambition is to build a portfolio of high-influence stakes in football clubs and other sporting assets across the world.
“At the same time, we will also invest in early-stage sports technology companies and use our portfolio to accelerate the development of these companies. The acquisition of Southampton is a great first step and we are very excited about the journey ahead.”
Upon leaving Brentford, Ankersen said: “I am really proud of what we have achieved together over the last seven years, and I feel lucky to have worked with incredible people who have also become my friends on the journey.
“Everything good comes to an end and I always hoped that when this day arrived, I would be able to leave Brentford in a good state. I am pleased that the club is now stronger than ever, and with Cliff, Phil, Jon and Thomas leading the ship I am convinced that Brentford will continue to thrive. I wish everyone at the Club all the best going forward.”