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Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 13:14 UK

Southampton FC is priority - Lowe

Southampton Chairman Rupert Lowe
Lowe returned to Southampton as plc chairman in May 2008

Southampton plc chairman Rupert Lowe has said the holding company's priority is to keep the football club alive.

The club face the prospect of going into administration and being docked points after trading in shares in their parent company was suspended.

Lowe told BBC Radio Solent: "It's now about keeping Southampton Football Club alive. This is the only way it could have been done."

Southampton Leisure Holdings plc (SLH) says it needs extra money to survive.

Lowe resigned as the club's chairman in February 2006 before returning to St Mary's as SLH chairman just over a year ago, when fellow ex-Saints chairman Michael Wilde returned as chairman of the football club.

I think everyone will be shocked. People I speak to just don't believe a club the size of Southampton would do this

Saints Trust chairman Nick Illingsworth

And he knows the objective for the football club is clear if the parent company enters administration.

"If we can stay in the Championship this club has a good chance of finding new investment. We have young players who are committed and will flourish in the future," he said.

Saints have seven matches left to avoid relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time in nearly half a century - and their fans have reacted angrily to the latest setback.

Nick Illingsworth, chairman of the Saints Trust, told BBC Radio Solent: "I think everyone will be shocked. People I speak to just don't believe a club the size of Southampton would do this.


"Attendances have dropped below the 15,000 mark at one stage and many supporters have said 'I'm not putting my money into Rupert Lowe etc' on the basis that they don't realise how desperate this is.

"Now we know how desperate it is. No Saints supporter can turn round and say 'I didn't realise the club was in trouble'."

Former Southampton manager Dave Merrington, who steered Saints to Premier League survival 14 years ago, said his biggest concern was for the fans.

The BBC Radio Solent summariser said: "There's been falling out and name blaming right across the board. They've had different boards in and they've finished up blaming each other, which is tragic for the fans.

"It's the fans that I really feel sorry for. Not only that we're coming up to a big, big game, a home game on Saturday and you just don't know what effect this is going to have on the players."

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