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New chief talks up Saints' potential
New Saints chairman Ralph Krueger believes the potential of the club is unlimited, but insists they must move quickly to close the “huge gap” that exists commercially at St Mary’s.
The 54-year-old formally took up his position this week, but he and the rest of owner Katharina Liebherr’s board have already been analysing what needs to be done.
Krueger did not want to speak about the previous regime at St Mary’s, but, while he is thrilled with the state of the football department that has been inherited, he is not impressed with the club’s commercial standing, which he believes is lagging behind many of their Premier League rivals.
“We have a huge gap between where we are today and where we need to be commercially,” he said. “A huge gap.
“That needs to be closed so there is growth opportunity. I am not telling you everything is going to be easy. But we have a hell of a foundation.”
One area where the club could quickly strengthen its standing is in sponsorship.
That gives the club an opportunity to either strike a fresh and improved agreement, or find a new main sponsor.
Krueger is clearly looking at a number of ways in which Saints can grow, though.
“There’s the local market, there’s the international market, there’s the work with sponsors and partners,” he said.
“I’m really excited to get involved and support that. It’s going to be one of my major focuses, to support that arm of the organisation.
“The sky’s the limit there.”
Krueger said improving commercially will strengthen the ability to keep key players at the club, and also make them more self-sustainable.
“[Katharina] wants it to be a healthy sports model,” he said. “I’ll be honest with you, I wouldn’t have taken this position if I didn’t see that was possible, and it’s very possible, and it is something we’re going to work for every day.”
When pressed for specifics on what was planned on the commercial side, Krueger gave little away.
“We’re at the beginning of that conversation, and it’s a big one,” he said.
“I think that, let’s come in the next few weeks to the financial side of things, which will be laid more open for you and then we will come with solutions there.”
But Krueger, who is keen to foster good relationships with other clubs and the business community, speaks of there being a “huge upside” commercially, and not just within England.
“I believe the potential is unlimited,” he said. “This league is going worldwide.
“One of the areas I hope to be able to help the club in is growing outside of Southampton.
“Growing the company outside of England is something I am very active about.”
Speaking of his plans broadly, Krueger added: “Politically, getting extremely active with the league and the environment around us here, having a good relationship with the city are important and building blocks for the future. I will be very active here.”
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