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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Saints chairman Lowe steps down
Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe
Lowe has been under pressure since Saints were relegated in 2005
Rupert Lowe has resigned as chairman of Championship side Southampton.

After 10 years in charge, Lowe has stood down from the club's board along with Andrew Cowen, Guy Askham, Michael Richard and David Windsor Clive.

Michael Wilde, Ken Dulieu, Jim Hone, Lee Hoos, Patrick Trant and Leon Crouch have been appointed as Southampton's new directors.

Wilde is the leader of a group of local businessmen that has campaigned to unseat Lowe.

Lowe's decision comes just three days before the emergency general meeting called by major shareholder Wilde which would have decided his future.

We will be speaking urgently to George Burley to establish the resources he needs

Property tycoon Michael Wilde

"We have had 10 interesting years at the club and leave behind us the legacy of a modern stadium," said Lowe in a statement.

As chairman, Lowe took Southampton from The Dell to their new ground at St Mary's and to the FA Cup final in 2003.

But his reign also saw 11 managers at the club and he was blamed by many supporters for their relegation in 2005 after 27 years in the top flight.

Players such as Peter Crouch, James Beattie, Antti Niemi and Theo Walcott have all been sold while Lowe's decision to appoint Harry Redknapp as manager just days after his departure from arch-rivals Portsmouth proved controversial.

Lowe has also been criticised for appointing former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward as Southampton's director of football.

Property tycoon Wilde, who will front the new board, recently bought up a near 25% stake in Saints' parent company Southampton Leisure Holdings.

Wilde has confirmed his backing for current Saints boss George Burley, but the future of Woodward is less clear.

Wilde has previously claimed Woodward would lose his title of director of football.

"We will be speaking urgently to George Burley to establish the resources he needs in both the short and medium term," said Wilde.

Patrick Trant is a director at Hampshire County Cricket Club, while Jim Hone is a former Celtic and Fulham chief executive.

Lowe decided to resign after Saints' second-largest shareholder Leon Crouch opted to side with Wilde.

Lowe's resignation means Monday's EGM has now been cancelled.


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