After countless renditions from fans of “Swing Lowe, Swing Rupert Lowe, Hanging from the Itchen bridge”, the chairman finally stood down from his position. Numerous bids to buy the club failed, including the Pinnacle Group, fronted by Matt Le Tissier, who even made an exclusivity payment of £500,000, before Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr stepped in.
Markus Liebherr, owner of the Mali Group and with an estimated personal wealth of £5billion, purchased the club on 8th July 2009. The club’s debt was immediately wiped off and significant investment into the team was made. Nicola Cortese was unveiled as chairman, with Alan Pardew brought in as manager and Rickie Lambert was purchased for £1million from Bristol Rovers. He was to make a huge contribution to the team, scoring 36 goals in his first season at the club.
Despite the difficult start to the season, Saints managed to finish 7th place in the league and also win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final at Wembley.
On 11th August 2010, the club was hit with the tragic news that Markus Liebherr had died at the age of 62 from a heart-related illness. Following this, the mysterious dismissal of Alan Pardew as manager following a resounding away victory at Bristol Rovers looked set to continue the club’s instability.
The 12th September 2010 saw the appointment of Nigel Adkins as manager. The storm created by the January transfer window has been weathered with the retention of services of prized assets Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and plans to remove the current ‘Premier League standard’ training facilities in favour of a new £3million development of the club’s foundations have been approved.
15 managers in 10 years at Southampton F.C. gives an indication as to the instability the club has seen in recent times. With the finances now seemingly secure, a strong chairman in place and a manager with the faith of all the fans behind him, it appears that the club is back on the rise. All thanks go to Saint Markus Liebherr, a true legend and saviour of the club.