RUPERT Lowe is back in football – with Northern Premier League strugglers Garforth Town.
The former Saints chairman has bought the West Yorkshire club and reinstated Simon Clifford – who he employed as a Saints coach in 2005 – as manager.
Lowe has also taken control of Clifford’s SOCATOTS and Brazilian Soccer Schools.
A statement from Lowe said: “Simon Clifford has asked me to help him restore the fortunes of SOCATOTS, Brazilian Soccer Schools and Garforth Town. “When Simon approached me I was well aware of the excellence of the coaching programme that he has developed.
“We worked together when I was chairman of Southampton Football Club.
“I had built up the Academy which had produced players such as Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Nathan Dyer, along with many others, and Clive Woodward and I identified Simon Clifford as the most exciting coach with the best philosophy for teaching young people to play exciting, attacking, entertaining and, most importantly, winning football.
“He would have helped to hone and improve our very talented young players but, as is often the case in football, we were not able to complete my long-term plan and I was ousted from the club in 2006.”
Lowe added: “What Simon has achieved over the past decade is quite exceptional, but I believe that with the right structure around him there is a great deal more to come.”
Clifford lasted less than two months at Saints in autumn 2005 after being taken to the club by then performance director Sir Clive Woodward, but has maintained a friendship with Lowe.
He said: He’s probably the only public schoolboy I’ve ever really got on with!
“I never liked the way he was forced out of Southampton and always said to him that if we progressed with Garforth, I’d give up the chairmanship so he’d be back in football.
“Now he’s the majority owner and he’s insisted on me being manager again. I think Rupert reckons I need to have some sort of goal to focus on.”
Garforth are currently bottom of the NPL Division One North and Clifford, 42 – whose outspoken views reportedly caused resentment among Saints’ backroom staff – will be assisted by previous boss Vernol Blair as he looks to turn their fortunes around.
“I was a big prediction person before but, whatever I was like before, we all change,” he said.
“All I will promise is to do my best.”