Tag: Southampton

RIP Markus Liebherr: The Man That Saved Southampton

Southampton supporters today were shocked to learn of the death of their club’s owner, Markus Liebherr, at the age of sixty-two. Here, Southampton supporter Neil Cotton pays his own tribute to the man that bought the club when they were at the point of extinction. A former colleague once related that on her way to watch Southampton play Ajax she was cut up by another motorist. Far from being upset by this she bore the assailant no ill-will as she believed that the car was ferrying new-owner and club saviour Markus Liebherr to his first game; the driver no doubt unfamiliar with the city and the vagaries of its traffic lanes. The car may or may not have contained Mr Liebherr however, the story says much about the esteem fans held for the new owner. Leibherr emerged after a dark summer where the club, now celebrating its 125th year stared into oblivion. Torn apart by boardroom infighting the club, long proud of its Premier League status, had been relegated the third tier, was in receivership and if that was not enough faced the added burden of starting the new season with a 10 point penalty. Fans had turned to the man credited with single handedly maintaining that hallowed Premier League status during the 1990s Matt Le Tissier. However, despite saving the club on-pitch time and time again off-pitch was...

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Southampton Pulled From The Fire

At last, a bit of welcome news in this disastrous summer for English football. Southampton found a last minute buyer earlier this week, and they are making the right noises about how they intend to run the club. The Liebherr Group took control of the club on Wednesday, and their opening statement as the new owners should act as a template for anyone seeking to take control of a football club: I believe we have a superb opportunity to rebuild this great club. This will require resources, planning, hard work and patience. We should not expect instant success, but our fans, employees and stakeholders can expect 100% commitment from me and my team. We will assemble a strong management team at every level of the club. We will act rapidly, but also plan for the long term, because I am here for the long term. I also look forward to the club re-engaging with the fans and the local community. We cannot succeed without their backing. It is a massive breath of fresh air to see the new owners of a football club preaching these values over “get rich quick” values which are too often flaunted elsewhere. Of course, we will have to wait and see to what extent they deliver upon these pledges, but it is encouraging to see the new owners of a football club making it...

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Southampton Back On The Brink

The new Football League season starts in a little over five weeks, but a huge question mark still hangs over the small matter of whether all the teams included in the fixture list will actually be starting the season after the Pinnacle group withdrew their interest in buying Southampton Football Club this week. This news isn’t a great surprise to anybody that has been watching the situation at St Marys over the last few weeks or so. Pinnacle, whose public face (at least as far as Southampton supporters were concerned) was one Matthew Le Tissier, had been the favourites to save the ailing club to the extent that they had been given a “period of exclusivity” over buying them by the administrators, Begbies Traynor. Doubts, however, had been raised over whether the seriousness of their intentions when they started to question the legality of the Football League’s points deduction which will see them start next season on minus ten points at the bottom of the League One table this August. Their period of exclusivity ended almost two weeks ago without a concrete offer having been made, and their interest formally ended today. Time isn’t on their side. The administrators confirmed at the end of last week that the club would have to be found up on Friday if a new buyer couldn’t be confirmed. The club sold striker to...

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Nathan Dyer: Southampton & The Politics Of The Fire Sale

A couple of months ago, Southampton Leisure Holdings, the holding company which owns Southampton Football Club went into administration. There was a brief and ineffectual protest from Southampton FC based upon the argument that this particular holding company wasn’t the same as the football club, and that they shouldn’t, therefore, face any sanctions from the Football League. The League, to their credit, decided that they would be the ones to make this decision and, after an independent audit, they confirmed that the two organisations were “inextricably linked”. Their relegation from the Championship was managed of their own accord, meaning that they will start next season ten points behind everyone else in League One. Any last vestiges of their being no link between the two organisations was confirmed today, when the company’s administrator confirmed that neither the players nor the staff had been paid for the month of May. With the administrators already having confirmed – morally correctly, at least – that no season tickets are to be sold until a resolution to their period in administration has been agreed, it’s starting to look difficult to see how Southampton FC will even be able to start next season unless new buyers for the club can be found. There will be a further meeting on the 5th of June, but we can expect to see redundancies and players leaving the club...

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Southampton & Their Points Deduction

Reading between the lines, the Football League’s verdict on Southampton’s attempt to put their holding company into administration without incurring a points deduction makes for pretty damning reading. The League’s conclusion stops not far short of stating that there has been a deliberate attempt to play the system by the club. The holding company Southampton Leisure Holdings and Southampton Football Club are “inextricably linked as one economic entity”, according to the League’s independent review of the club’s finances, and it’s hardly surprising that they should reach this conclusion. There is nothing that the football authorities hate more than setting up what they think is a watertight new rule which may significantly benefit the game, only to see someone crash through it. Leeds played the system two years ago and got away with it (though the legality of their escape from insolvency remains open to question and is still being put through a court on the Channel Islands). The Football League wasn’t going to let that happen again. Holding companies are, by their very nature, an inextricable part of the current problems that the game faces. Created in the first place to circumvent FA rules on club directors not being able to pay themselves sizeable dividends in the early 1990s. In recent times, they have become more and more commonplace and have been put in place for a variety of...

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