The running of Southampton Football Club has been turned into turmoil after the club has confirmed that club chairman Nicola Cortese has resigned.
The club have announced that Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr has taken on the role of chairman, while the club has begun a search for a CEO who will take over Cortese’s duties. Liebherr said:
“With great regret we have accepted the resignation of Mr Cortese. He has done a wonderful job at the club and we very much wanted him to stay. A search has now begun for a successor. In the meantime, it is business as usual and we will ensure that the manager, the team and all the staff at the club have all the help and support they need.”
Cortese had tendered his resignation in the fall, according to BBC Sport, with the condition that he would help finalize his duties and transition his responsibilities before leaving the club.
Cortese’s departure may send the running of Southampton Football Club into a tailspin. There were reports last May that Cortese threatened to leave the Saints, with manager Mauricio Pochettino reportedly warning that if Cortese left, so would he.
Nicola Cortese rebuilt Southampton from the depths of despair. He brought the club back to the top flight from League One in a relatively short period of time while building a sustainable business model.
His links with clubs throughout the continent helped bring under-the-radar talent to the south coast while working hard to develop English talent at the club. Nigel Adkins was retained as manager to get the club successive promotions and when the team hit a rough patch last season after returning to the Premier League, Cortese courageously sacked Adkins.
The decision was unpopular but Mauricio Pochettino proved an inspired choice and one directly tied to Cortese. Last year when the chairman was almost sacked, Pochettino said the following:
“I would not understand a Southampton without Nicola being here. The person who actually called me from the start, told me about the project and put his faith in me, in this club, and as a manager was Nicola. Nicola Cortese has basically been the reality at Southampton for the past four years.”
Not only is there the fear that Pochettino may depart the club now that Cortese has gone, but there are a number of players who may want to leave Southampton if Pochettino leaves too.
The Saints have proven to be a club whose success was largely the vision of one man. Now that man is gone. Will Southampton make the right choices in maintaining the structure and talent Cortese brought to the club? Or will this day go down as a day we looked back on as when the south coast club began a long descent? Only time will tell.
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