Former Ice Hockey boss becomes Southampton Chairman

Southampton Football Club

Former Ice Hockey international and Team Canada coach Ralph Krueger has been named as Nicola Cortese's successor at Southampton.

The new name on the chairman's office door at St. Mary's Stadium is that of Ralph Krueger, a Canadian with a deep-rooting in the sport of Ice Hockey.

Krueger was announced as the new Chairman of Southampton Football Club on Wednesday, with club owner Katharina Liebherr having made an approach to Krueger earlier this month.

It was revealed, by Krueger, that he was first approached by Liebherr in late 2013 after Nicola Cortese informed her of his intention to resign after irreconcilable differences appeared between the two over the direction of the club and the structure that it should have been implementing.

Since then, Ralph Krueger has attended three home games alongside Liebherr, as well as travelling to Wembley Stadium to watch Southampton's representatives in the England vs Denmark fixture.

It was during this trip to Wembley that Krueger admits he held talks with Pochettino and his senior coaching staff about their futures at the club. Despite being coy on negotiations, the Canadian admitted that talks had opened over a new deal for the Argentinian boss.

Krueger will be joined on the Southampton board by lawyer Hans Hofstetter as well as Head of Football Development Les Reed and Acting CEO Gareth Rogers.

Speaking after his formal appointment, one of Krueger's first jobs was to assure fans that the club was not for sale. He went on to state that Katharina Liebherr has developed an emotional bond with the club as a result of its importance to her father, the late Markus Liebherr, whom she inherited the club from.

"It is not [for sale]," Krueger told BBC South Today. "Katharina Liebherr is here to grow the club."

"Katharina has embraced so much of the environment. She has been visible and coming to games and the smile has been hard to take off her face."

"She is excited about taking this club to another level and doing everything that is possible to nurture that. We know there are a lot of areas to improve on and Katharina wants us to attack those opportunities together."

One of the key tasks that faces Krueger is to deliver on Katharina Liebherr's promise to supporters that the club would become more transparent as it enters a new era.

Previously under the lead of Nicola Cortese, the Premier League club had little interaction with its fan base, shunning fan forums and supporter consultation over controversial issues, such as the abandonment of stripes since 2012.

Krueger is keen to enhance and improve the reputation of the club on a local, national and international level, in terms of its engagement with communities but also in terms of its sponsorship and marketing potential, which he considers to be under performing at current.

"We will build on that soul by creating platforms of open communication both inside with the staff and outside with our fan base."

"Although there is a solid foundation in place, the club still has tremendous untapped commercial potential," Krueger added.

"We will continue to nurture 'the Southampton Way' by reaching for consistent growth in all departments to ultimately build a culture that allows Southampton to remain healthy and sustainable in the future."

In terms of international development of Southampton, Krueger enthused that the club most focus on and maximise its image as being a British club with a strong tradition of cultivating and presenting young home-grown talent with first team opportunities. 

"The number one growing sport in America and Canada is football, not American football," said Krueger.

"It's booming and there is an opportunity there for us because the Premier League is by far the most respected league in the world, so we have opportunity for growth, so let's find opportunities to expand."

Club owner Katharina Liebherr appointed Krueger, and has issued her support to the 52 year old Canadian, as he embarks on his first managerial task in football.

"Ralph has an impressive background in major league sport at all levels, it is his experience as an expert in leadership, motivation and team-building that makes him ideally suited for this important position in the Saints organisation," Katharina Liebherr said.

"He has been a leading adviser and coach to senior management in large international corporations for the past 20 years. In addition, he has been an active member of the World Economic Forum since 2011."

"The news that Ralph has agreed to take on the role of chairman at the club follows a calm and steady process of identifying a board that will bring the stability needed to achieve long-term success both on and off the pitch."

"I will remain on the board, with an active involvement, and we will continue to move forward with great respect for Saints' history, while at the same time work towards a process that is creative, unique, dynamic and modern."

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