Date:Monday February 26 2007
It seemed like the perfect weekend with Saints winning, other promotion rivals losing and Portsmouth being thrashed at the hands of Blackburn. Nothing is ever straightforward with Southampton though, which the mysterious resignation of Chairman Michael Wilde illustrates.
The arrival of the new board in July saw Saints treated to a spending-spree with £7million being spent and the attitude of the new owners very clear: promotion at any cost. While Saints have disappointed on occasion this season they are still very much in the promotion mix at this late stage, with the top 8 being separated by just 4 points.
The reason for Wilde`s resignation at this crucial stage seems weak: failing to deliver promised investment. The Saints Trust supporter group expressed their concern about the lack of investment in January, a 700-plus member which includes Michael Wilde himself. Clearly something is not right at the heart of the club and Wilde`s untimely departure has confirmed this to many supporters.
Wilde was content to stay out of the limelight and focus predominantly on matters on the pitch. Performances and results have improved this season as a consequence. The two previous years had seen a constant media circus at St. Mary`s after a series of strange decisions by ex-chairman and much maligned figure Rupert Lowe, none least so than the appointment of rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward. As a result, the team suffered and fans became disgruntled.
All attention must be on the team at this critical stage, with forthcoming matches against 5 promotion rivals pivotal to the future of the club. The rumoured return of Rupert Lowe (who is still the third majority share-holder) could see a return to the dark days of 2004-2006 and complete a nightmare scenario for supporters.
Ideally, Leon Crouch will take the reigns until the end of the season when the situation can be fully addressed. However, if the board are not careful and the situation is not dealt with appropriately at this stage, the club could be effectively shooting itself in the foot at this vital stage in the race for promotion.
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