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Saints Confirm The New Board Structure
Monday, 24th Jun 2019 10:17

Gao Jisheng is now very much Chairman Gao and he is now starting to implement his thoughts on running Saints and they have now announced the new board structure.

The changes seem to be more about evolution than revolution and that has to be a good thing.

The statement reads:

Majority shareholder Mr Jisheng Gao will now take the position of Chairman of the club and St Mary’s Football Group. Katharina Liebherr re-joins the St Mary’s Football Group board whilst Nelly Gao and Martin Semmens will also become members of the St Mary’s Football Group board and Vice-Chairs of the club board.

Martin Semmens has also been appointed as CEO of Southampton Football Club, and will lead the club on a day-to-day basis.

The management team and operations remain unchanged and the club is looking forward with new focus and determination to a successful season.

So it seems Gao is now starting to take a more hands on role at the club and putting in place the structure that he feels will best serve the purpose.

The role as Chairman was for a long period blurred at Saints in that both Rupert Lowe and Nicola Cortese were both Chairman & CEO.

The role of Chairman is not a full time position, he is usually the man who links between the shareholders/owners and those running the club on a day to day basis, it seems that Gao is now going to fulfill that role and although he won't be at the club full time he will relay his instructions directly with Martin Semmens implementing the running of the club.

It is good to see that Katharina Liebherr is not just walking away but will still be on the football group board, there are those who have been derogatory to her on social media, but the truth is that she stayed true to her fathers ideals and what he wanted for the club when back in 2013/14 it would have been easy to have cut her losses and run and perhaps see the club run into financial difficulty, but she put money in to complete the over budget training ground and stabilised the club and in this respect deserves as much gratitude as Saints fans showed her father.

So far she has never done us any wrong and she is now showing that she wants to help the club build on her Father's legacy.

Also the fact that Gao's own daughter Nellie is joining the board is positive, that shows that the Gao family are getting hands on and getting involved, so far it has felt like they were sat back doing nothing, now it feels they are committing themselves to the club.

All in all this is a positive sign that Gao doesnt intend to just sit back but wants the club to succeed, why would he not want that ? if he wants a return on his investment then he knows that he needs the club to be in the Premier League, if it drops out then he could be waving goodbye to the value of his shareholding.

The thing that we as fans need to do now is judge Gao and his people on what they do going forward, not on what has happened in the past both before and after his arrival.

We don't know what the future holds, indeed every club that gets relegated is not necessarily poorly run, these things happen, but the indications are today that after having looked hard and long at the structure of the club Gao is now starting to run things his way.

None of us know what that way will be like yet, but one thing we have seen is that Gao is not impulsive, he hasn't promised us the earth, he seems to be calculated in the way he does business and does so based on making decisions that are well thought out.

I for one am glad to see that, we have to trust him and give him the chance, not only because he deserves the benefit of the doubt till he actually does something not in the best interests of the club, but because we have no other choice.

Time to make him feel welcome and support him !

Photo: Action Images

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SanMarco added 11:08 - Jun 24
Chairman Gao indeed.

It is certainly true that he hasn't promised us the earth and that we have no choice but to trust him.

I think that little will change and our immediate future will be decided by the manager and the summer transfer activity. If we keep the manager for a couple of seasons and trust him over the squad building then the only way is (surely) up...

saintmark1976 added 11:29 - Jun 24
Katherine Liebherr "she stayed true to her father's ideals". For goodness sake have a holiday Nick. Is this the same person who allegedly put in 35 million and sold for 210 million, putting the club at a place where it was nearly relegated two seasons running or are you referring to somebody else?

I appreciate that you appear to have taken on the role (I'm sure unpaid) of being the club's positive thought chear leader which is no bad thing, but truly you are in danger of losing credibility with such statements.

MRHALL93 added 11:33 - Jun 24
It seems like the foundations from a few seasons ago are looking to be rebuilt with this news. Maybe him appointing himself and his daughter into senior positions in the club is a cost-saving exercise, or whether he's lining his pockets doing so. He has already said that he won't be pumping loads of the money into the club, meaning that the club needs to be self-sufficient with funding. It'll be interesting to see if he's going to do a lot of word in China to try and grow Southampton FC as a brand over there, maybe we'll see more revenue sales from T-Shirt sales etc. As Football is a growing sport over there, maybe he's looking to make us one of the big names over there, with the likes of the sponsor etc.

SaintNick added 12:20 - Jun 24
saintmark. So why do you think Markus bought Saints ? His plan was always to build the club into a profitable business and eventually sell it on, nothing wrong with that, Kat stepped in when the club was being run into the ground financially both in terms of poor signings and also drastically overspending on the training ground.. So yes this is the person who sold he families share for £200 million, but why was she able to do that ? Because she was also the person who stepped in and turned it round to four consecutive top 8 finishes and a cup final.

Yes we have had a couple of dodgy seasons but that is not due to the owner selling her share, that was due to poor appointments of managers in Pellegrino & Hughes, that has been rectified now and changes made

Im not the unpaid cheerleader, I merely call it as i see it and as I said I dont know what Gao will do or not do, but I am willing to give him a chance to show me, that is something you seem unable to do, continually harping on about the negative things of the past conveniently forgetting the good

I may lose credibility for going against the view that is shouted loudly on social media, but at least i try to explain the rationale behind my opinion, when things have been done badly I stand up and say so, but at the moment i see things starting to get better going forward so i keep an open mind

Jesus_02 added 13:11 - Jun 24
I'm shocked and pretty embarrassed about the treatment of Katharina Liebherr as well TBH. I don't think she is the business person that her father was but she certainly doesn't deserved to be treated that way. She is no Mike Ashley.

That said I am perplexed by Nicks views sometimes. The foundations for our success were clearly built by Marcus and Cortese, our reversion to "perennial stragglers" that invested in middle of the road players has been seeded by Kruger and Les. Geo and Simmons will not turn this around this season, it will take time because that's how it works. Its not always the person in the seat at the time of the "4 consecutive top 8 finishes" that is responsible.

Teams, like trees take a while to grow and seconds to cut down. Now is a time to re-build. Lets not judge these guys after a season. Maybe 2 or 3 .

For now lets just be glad we have stopped playing anti-football.

Colburn added 13:41 - Jun 24
I agree with you Nick here, where would we be without the Liebherrs? People have very short memories.. Thank you Katharina and good luck Mr Gao. With today's financial climate all clubs need to be self sufficient or disaster comes, unless you're one of the big 6. What is important is that our recruitment is smart as it was before Mitchell left. Reed benefitted from the tail end of Mitchells time but then became clueless. Glad Ralph is pivotal in these future decisions. Time for positivity and togetherness.

Colburn added 13:44 - Jun 24
Mr Gao will not need to do much, responsibility has been delegated to those who know what they are doing.. I.e. The Hutch. This is how the club should function, finally it is!

SaintBrock added 13:53 - Jun 24
I hope this re-arrangement of the deck chairs is not an omen of titanic proportions.

SaintBrock added 14:00 - Jun 24
What choice do we have Nick? It is impossible to gauge the merits of Gao's reshuffle from our position as onlookers. No fan representation despite official recommendations on corporate governance. Take it or leave it!

saintmark1976 added 14:06 - Jun 24
Nick. Your comments are quite correctly posted with great positivety and give me the impression that you have some form of inside knowledge of the way the club is run and its future, and for that mater its past, intentions and objectives. Perhaps now would be a good time for you to set the record straight-do you have such inside knowledge? If the answer is "yes" then I bow to your superior knowledge. If the answer is "no" then with great respect your opinions and views carry no more weight than any other season ticket holder or for that matter part time fan.

Over the last few months and particularly very recently your posts indicate to me a desire to want to crush any opinion other than your own seemingly expressed on behalf of the club. I council you against such an outcome and once again remind you of that well known expression " I don't agree with what you say but I defend to the death your right to say it". Put simply intolerance of others views is not the best way for your site to progress.


warrens76 added 10:37 - Jun 27
Nick you are the unpaid have cut this ownership more slack than Alice's draws.

There is not a shred of ambition, Cortese overspent on a world leading Academy, yes he was guilty of perfectionism and a pain in the derriere but what a magnificent journey, from div 1 to 3rd in the PL before the final bust up with Kat....

How can you give Cortese both barrels when he laid out a vision and ambition to Markus who trusted him and delivered way beyond our dreams (that is part of the problem to many including you think small) he never lied to us either.

Kat and her bagman did nothing but lie to us, clubs not for sale, players not for sale upon Kruegers appointment when he was tasked with that and the Swiss media reported same.

The ECL, then top 6, then single figures all lies, selling to take the club to the next level, what Primark...

I don't question your support for Saints I have known you since the 70's a Clive Foley's coaches but believe me your 'realism' is nothing of the sort it is a justafication for some pretty horrific ownership and woeful you thin Reed would have been allowed to decimate the squad on Cortese's watch? hardly caring ownership.

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