Couple Of Football Teams This Is On The Rugby Pitch The Fall and Rise (?) of Southampton FC

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The Fall and Rise (?) of Southampton FC

As of Tuesday 22 February 2011, Southampton Football Club is ranked 5th in the NPower League 1 table. Just 8 years ago, they were 8th in the Premier League, runners-up in the FA Cup and were about to compete in the UEFA Cup in a shiny new £30 million stadium. So, where did it all go wrong?

After a fairytale end to 103 years of football at the Dale, club hero Matt Le Tissier scored a sensational volley to secure a 3-2 win over Arsenal, as the club moved into the new 32,000 seater St Mary’s Stadium. Things got off to a slow start at the new ground but Saints finished 11th in the 2001/02 season under Gordon Strachan. Things got better the following season with an 8th place finish and an FA Cup runner-up finish, but it was the start of the club’s rapid fall from grace.

In the 2004/05 season struggling Southampton acquired the certain Harry Redknapp from local rivals Portsmouth. In addition, Rugby World Cup winner Sir Clive Woodward was hired as ‘Technical Director/Performance Director/Director of Football’ on a multi-million pound contract which never seemed to materialise. Despite big-name investment, Southampton FC were relegated from the Premier League on 15 May 2005 after a total of 27 years in the top flight of English football. Needless to say, things didn’t get any better when Harry Redknapp returned to Portsmouth in November of that year.

After a few seasons of Championship football, chairman Rupert Lowe’s money-grabbing strategy of selling the best young players emerging from the club’s prestigious academy to line his own pockets stuck with him. Wayne Bridge, James Beattie, Kevin Davies, Kenwyn Jones, Andrew Surman, David McGoldrick, Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale were sold for a total of £45 million.

Southampton FC went into administration on 23 April 2009, saddled with £30 million in debt, the new stadium was in debt. The Football League gave the club the following ultimatum:

“If you stay this season, you will be deducted 10 points this season [ensuring relegation].”

“If you get out this season, you get 10 points deducted next season.”

The club were relegated that season and, therefore, had to find a buyer to keep them going, starting the next season in minus 10.

After countless fan renditions of “Swing Lowe, Swing Rupert Lowe, Hanging from the Eichen Bridge,” the president finally stepped down from his post. Several bids to buy the club failed, including the Pinnacle Group, led by Matt Le Tissier, who also made a special payment of £500,000 before Swiss billionaire Marcus Lieberer stepped in.

On 8 July 2009, Marcus Lieber, owner of the Mali Group and a personal fortune estimated at £5 billion, bought the club. The club’s debt was immediately wiped out and significant investment was made in the team. Nicolas Cortes was unveiled as chairman, Alan Pardew was brought in as manager and Rickie Lambert was bought from Bristol Rovers for £1 million. In his first season at the club, he contributed a lot to the team, scoring 36 goals.

Despite a difficult start to the season, Saints managed to finish 7th in the league and also won the Johnstones Pent Trophy Final at Wembley.

On 11 August 2010, the club received the sad news that Markus Lieberer passed away at the age of 62 from a heart-related illness. Following this, the club’s instability continued with the mysterious sacking of Alan Pardew as manager after a stunning win over Bristol Rovers.

On 12 September 2010, Nigel Adkins was appointed as manager. The storm created by the January transfer window has been weathered by retaining the services of prized assets Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and plans to ditch the club’s current ‘Premier League standard’ training facility in favor of a new £3 million development. Foundations are approved.

15 managers in 10 years at Southampton FC indicate the club’s instability in recent times. With finances now seemingly secure, a strong chairman and a manager with all the fans behind him, it seems the club is on the rise again. All thanks to Saint Markus Lieberer, a true legend and savior of the club.

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