"The cracks were already obvious to a certain extent with the botched appointment of Stuart Gray to replace Glenn Hoddle in 2001"
After 10 years as chairman Rubert Lowe, duck hunter extraordinaire, has left Southampton FC. He was coerced in to stepping down following an EGM last week at St Mary’s. no doubt the overwhelming consensus from saints fans will be delight at ridding themselves of this old school establishment esque figure.
Lowe and Lowe supporters(should they exist) would point to the amazing turnaround in the club’s facilities during his tenure. When Lowe took over they were playing at the ramshackle yet “cosy” Dell, with a mere capacity of 15,000, the smallest ground during the 14 years of the Premiership to date. In 2001 he led them to the St Mary’s stadium, a new state of the art stadium with a capacity of over 30,000.
Indeed, back in 2003 he was being hailed as the prudent chairman, who despite keeping the purse strings tight, saw the club finish 8th and enter Europe as losing finalists of the FA Cup. Since then his reputation has collapsed.
The cracks were already obvious to a certain extent with the botched appointment of Stuart Gray to follow Glenn Hoddle in 2001. Gray’s time in charge was a disaster and the club looked set for relegation until Lowe wisely acted and replaced him with Gordon Strachan.
Many see the that summer of 2003, as mentioned previously, as the turning point. Further lack of investment was seen as a lack of ambition which many have seen as providing the eventual tailspin that led to Strachan’s departure, “hip operation” or otherwise.
The whole Paul Sturrock affair was a disaster but Lowe already had his tail between his legs over his preferred choice of Glenn Hoddle and the fans venom towards this idea. Removing a manager only two games into a season is an incredibly brash way of handling things, Sturrock didn’t deserve that treatment and the contempt shown by Lowe turned many neutrals against Southampton.
The appointment of Steve Wigley proved lightning strikes twice, but this time there was no messiah to rescue them, as ‘Arry Redknapp couldn’t prevent their relegation. Sir Clive Woodward also began his association with the club, further ammo used against the “out of touch” Lowe.
The first season back in the Championship saw the side struggle but eventually rally under the new boss, George Burley. This upturn in fortunes proved to be too little too late as on June 30th, Lowe resigned under fierce criticism, due to the club’s rapid decline since the highpoint of 8th in the Premiership 3 years ago.
Lowe sympathisers have seen the criticism of him as jealously, that the football world couldn’t take a posh fellow called Rupert being a club chairman.
One thing is for sure, now he’s gone, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone involved in football called Rupert!
6 July 2006