A source close to the owners of Southampton Football Club said this afternoon that billionaire Paul Allen's representatives have discussed...

A source close to the owners of Southampton Football Club said this afternoon that billionaire Paul Allen’s representatives have discussed purchasing the English soccer team, even though Allen’s spokesman denied it this morning.

Southampton Leisure Holdings, which trades on the London Stock Exchange, owns the team, nicknamed the Saints. The source said that Microsoft co-founder Allen is probably serious about making a formal offer, although none has been made.

Michael Nank, spokesman for Vulcan, Allen’s investment firm said this morning, “To my knowledge there’s no truth” to the rumor that Allen is interested.

The team’s owners also published a statement today that while no buyer has made a formal offer, there has been a preliminary approach by an unnamed one.

Companies listed on the exchange are required to make a statement when the stock rises a certain amount. Shares of Southampton gained 34.7 percent yesterday to close at 64 pence, or $1.28. The company is valued at 17.9 million pounds, or $35 million.

“There has been an approach, but it’s at a very preliminary stage and we’re not releasing names,” said Jonathan Knight, director of Seymour Pierce, by telephone this morning. Seymour Pierce is the investment bank working with the owners of the soccer team.

Southampton FC was in the English Premier League for 27 years but was recently relegated to a lower division. With several games left to play this season, the team could potentially win a spot back in Premier.

Allen owns the Seattle Seahawks football team and the Portland Trailblazers basketball team.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2204 or schan@seattletimes.com