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Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 14:23 UK

Southampton future 'in jeopardy'

St Mary's Stadium
Southampton moved to the St Mary's Stadium in 2001

Southampton's future is seriously under threat, according to the man appointed to run the club's owners.

Southampton's parent company was placed in administration on Thursday and chief executive Rupert Lowe has resigned.

Trading in Southampton Leisure Holding (SLH) plc's shares was suspended on Wednesday after the company admitted it needed extra money to have a future.

"The finances are interlinked therefore the future of the club is in serious jeopardy," said administrator Mark Fry.

"The holding company owns the football club. The football club is an asset."

The holding company has been put into administration with debts of £27.5m, reportedly made up of financial liabilities of £23.1m and an overdraft of £4.4m.

It is possible that putting the parent company into administration - thus wiping out a significant proportion of the club's debt - could save the club from a 10-point deduction.

Fans' reaction to financial news

The Football League has a monthly board meeting next Tuesday, and the Southampton situation will be one of the key items on the agenda.

A spokesman told BBC Sport said it would not comment until after that meeting, and he added it was not certain the club's fate would be decided once it finished.

Clubs such as Leeds and Luton, who were hit with points deductions themselves after going into administration, would be angry if Southampton avoided such a fate.

Lowe, Saints chairman Michael Wilde and director Andrew Cowen have resigned from the company with immediate effect, although a statement from SLH said the club is "unaffected by these insolvency proceedings".

The business is heavily in debt after spending more than £30m on the 32,000-seat St Mary's Stadium, which they moved to from The Dell in 2001, before being relegated from the Premier League in 2005.

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The administrators will now try and find a buyer for the club although Fry, who is joint administrator, admitted that has been an-on going process for the directors.

"The directors have tried to sell or seek investment for a considerable amount of time, which they have been unsuccessful in doing," Fry said.

The controversial Lowe was chairman at the club for 10 years until his removal in 2006 but linked up with Wilde, the man who initially replaced him, to return to the boardroom last summer.

But despite introducing a number of cost-cutting measures, including loaning out big earners and closing parts of St Mary's on match days, the south-coast club remain in desperate financial trouble.

In an earlier statement Fry insisted the club "could be an extremely attractive investment for the right buyer".

He added: "We are working hard to preserve the value of the football club and produce a positive outcome for all stakeholders.

"I ask that fans continue to show their support for the team for the remainder of the season as we seek to show the best face possible to potential investors."

Last October, SLH's bank Barclays significantly reduced the company's overdraft facility.

The Saints are second from bottom of the Championship, three points adrift of safety.

And it means they are now threatened by liquidation and could drop out of the Football League, if SLH fails to attract new investment by the end of the summer.



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see also
Southampton FC is priority - Lowe
01 Apr 09 |  Southampton
Saints fans protest ahead of game
31 Jan 09 |  Hampshire
Crouch defends his Saints regime
28 Jan 09 |  Southampton
Saints slump exposes crisis
05 Jan 09 |  Southampton
Lowe gave Saints pre-match talk
29 Oct 08 |  Southampton
Saints expect 'substantial' loss
24 Jul 08 |  Southampton
Saints terminate takeover talks
27 May 08 |  Southampton
Lowe completes Southampton return
15 May 08 |  Southampton
Lowe & Wilde call for Saints EGM
01 Apr 08 |  Southampton
Saints chairman Lowe stands down
30 Jun 06 |  Hampshire


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