Making money from their academy is nothing new for Saints – but now the club hope to profit from the ideas that come out of that prestigious system, rather than simply the players.
It is a long and proud history of development that has helped the club establish a reputation as one of the leading academy centres in football.
It has also provided a valuable source of revenue over the years, with Saints raking in tens of millions from selling players who have come through that system.
However, the club’s new board believe they have identified a fresh and innovative way of profiting from it – by offering access to their expertise.
“Intellectual capital is an asset,” said chairman Ralph Krueger.
“The intellectual capital that we have here, positioning it and using it – that is where I hope that my contacts and my background can become an asset to the organisation.”
He added: “The key is to monetise it without losing the soul. To also use the knowledge that is there.
“The respect that I feel worldwide for the academy, let’s find a way to monetise that.”
Krueger is not talking about devaluing Saints’ celebrated system by selling any secrets to their rivals.
What he is saying is that there are developing markets around the world, particularly in North America, where advice is being sought on how to set up and run such centres, and how to coach players. Given the strength of Saints’ reputation, Krueger believes there are plenty of organisations who would be keen to tap into their expertise and learn from their methods, for a price.
“You have to retain certain areas for yourself, that is of course the case,” he said.
“But there is generality that is out there, of the way you train and the way you do things, that are public knowledge right here in England – it’s the norm.
“But we are speaking about developing nations. I mean, the US and Canada are developing football nations right now, and excited to develop.”
Krueger has already spoken about how Saints possess a completely different brand to clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City or Arsenal, and how he wants to position them “uniquely”.
One area in which he sees potential to do that is through the academy, and their record for producing young English talent.
“We are unique in that situation and I love the academy spirit,” he said. “We have a product there. The coaching depth, we have the sports science angle – the knowledge that is there is very deep-running.”
Krueger offered a first-hand example of how far-reaching the academy’s reputation already is.
“Somebody I know just purchased the football team in Geneva,” he said. “He didn't know I was coming here, and I ran into him in December. I’d had some conversations already with Southampton, and he said ‘We are going to build an academy.’ I said ‘That’s interesting, where are you looking?’ “He said ‘Well, I have hired two Englishmen, but we are looking at Southampton.’ “This is the guy who buys the team in Geneva, saying we are using Southampton as the model for our academy.”
Krueger later quipped: “Next time I see him, he is going to have to send us a cheque.”
The first of many, he will hope.