The future of Southampton FC has been thrown into doubt with the recent admission that chairman Nicola Cortese wishes to leave his position due to on-going disagreements with ownership over the running of the club. According to Sky Sports, it has also come to light that owner Katharina Liebherr is looking to sell Southampton.
As of yet, the club has not released a statement.
This news could ultimately lead to serious changes at St Mary’s. Beginning with the possible departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino who in the past has stated that he would look to leave the club should Cortese depart. “Nicola Cortese has basically been the reality at Southampton for the past four years. Me on a personal sense, I would not understand a Southampton without Nicola being here,” the Argentine manager said. “Basically, my future in Southampton has to be with Nicola.”
With Cortese gone, will Pochettino be next to follow?
Cortese has also been the key figure while answering all of the transfer rumors surrounding Southampton’s talented young players. The Italian has been quick to dispel any gossip and has stated time after time that the club would not sell their exceptional talent.
With Cortese out of the picture, the door would once again be open to Premier League clubs to come after Southampton’s prized assets.
In 2009, Nicola Cortese was named chairman of Southampton FC shortly after the club had come out of administration and was just beginning play in League One with minus ten points. The Italian brought with him a strategy which he felt would rapidly ensure the Saints’ progression from the lower leagues of English football into the Premier league.
His ‘project’ developed faster than expected. Cortese had a five-year plan to see Southampton promoted to the Premiership, but accomplished that goal in only two-and-a-half years. Along the way he fired the popular manager Nigel Adkins and hired a largely unheard of (in English football) talent, Mauricio Pochettino.
Instead of being content with the club’s success, Cortese established a new goal for the club: European qualification. Cortese and Southampton’s head of football development Les Reed analyzed the best way for the club to be competitive on the European stage. Cortese felt Southampton were best suited to follow the example of Barcelona’s La Masia academy. The La Liga giant has nurtured young Spanish players to their style of play with enormous success. Since Southampton has been regarded for its development of young English talent, Cortese’s plan was to invest more funds into the club’s academy and implement a playing style that is taught from the bottom to the top of the club.
Cortese’s plan also including holding on to Southampton’s young English players, no matter how strong the interest was from other Premier League clubs.
Players such as: Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, James Ward-Prowse and Nathaniel Clyne have all been on the radar of opposing managers. But Cortese held firm that Southampton were not going to sell.
The Italian has been called ‘the reality’ at the club by manager Mauricio Pochettino. In the past, Cortese has had a strained relationship with owner Katharina Liebherr over the long term direction of the club as well as his contract. They were able to “resolve” their issues over the summer, but it appears that the relationship has once again broken down.
Rumors persisted that Liebherr’s long-term plans for Southampton were still up in the air. But with today’s news coming from Sky Sports, it appears that the club is about to be put on the market.
With Cortese out of the picture, Southampton would lose one of the key visionaries of their recent success. It would also lose a strong personality, excellent businessman and well-respected leader.
And with St Mary’s surrounded by uncertainty, Premier League clubs should be on notice that Southampton’s prized assets (Saints players and manager) might soon be on the move.