Southampton are treading water financially and the worrying losses the club is making could mean Gao Jisheng is left with no option but to sell up.

That is according to finance expert and new Football Insider columnist Kieran Maguire, speaking exclusively to correspondent Adam Williams after Southampton released their end of year financial report.

The Saints posted losses of £76million, while their turnover has also nosedived from £149.6m in 2019 to £123.6m in 2020.

The complete loss of matchday revenue and mandatory broadcaster rebates — both pandemic-related issues — have contributed significantly to the downturn.

Maguire believes that sacrifices will have to be made for the Saints to navigate this bumpy fiscal period, which could mean they are forced to sell their finest assets, and owner Jisheng might want to pass the burden on to a new owner.

“It’s going to be a tough year for Southampton,” he told Football Insider.

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“They could be sold if the owners decide they don’t want to fund the losses. They clearly do have assets which are very valuable in the form of players.”

“Southampton’s academy has been fantastic. I was a bit surprised about the comments from Alan Pace, the new Burnley owner, about Southampton’s academy. In my view, it’s still generating talent.

“I don’t think there will have to be a fire sale, but if the owners don’t want to fund those losses it will have to come through player sales, from the first team and the academy.”

On the pitch, the picture looks significantly better for Southampton.

They are currently 8th in the table and remain very much in the conversation when it comes to Champions League qualification.

In other news, a Championship side is working on a deal to sign a Southampton star permanently in January.