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Sir Clive was catalyst for Lowe board split
3:03pm Thursday 7th May 2009 in Sport
IT wasn’t Saints’ relegation from the Premiership that was the defining moment in splitting Rupert Lowe’s board the first time around.
It wasn’t anything to do with the appointing of three different managers, or head coaches in Steve Wigley’s case, during the disastrous 2004/05 season which has directly led to the club’s current financial crisis.
It wasn’t anything to do with a footballing figure at all.
It was in fact to do with the appointment of Sir Clive Woodward.
Lowe had first been pictured with the man who led England to rugby World Cup glory in 2003 at Saints’ opening game of the 2004/05 campaign, a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa that set the tone for the miserable nine months that followed.
Woodward was again in the directors’ box for the home game against Bolton a few weeks later following Paul Sturrock’s departure.
He later joined Saints full time in July 2005 as technical director.
That title was later changed to performance director and finally director of football following George Burley’s arrival in December 2005.
“The flirtation with Sir Clive Woodward was what really split the board badly,” Wiseman said.
“I still don’t know how much money was wasted on Sir Clive, but it was money the club couldn’t really afford at that moment.
“That was what finally split the board for good. There was no way back after that.
“That was crucial.”
Wiseman said he was never shown documents detailing Woodward’s Saints salary during his time on the PLC board as a non executive director.
He also does not know how much Woodward spent in overseeing the redevelopment of the Staplewood training ground.
It is estimated that the upgrade and new facilities – completed in eary 2006 – cost Saints around £1.2m.
Some of the innovations Woodward brought in – such as the equipment to improve hand-eye co-ordination – have never been used to the extent he hoped they would.
Woodward was given the task of trying to source potential successors to Harry Redknapp following the latter’s defection back to Fratton Park in November of the 2005/06 season, Saints’ first in the Championship.
While being impressed by the likes of Phil Brown and Adrian Boothroyd, Woodward also went to Holland where he found Mark Wotte. Another Dutchman, Cees Lok, was also interviewed.
It is believed Wotte was recommended to Saints by Steve Wigley, who knew him from working for England under-21s when Wotte was in charge of the Dutch under-21s.
Wotte resigned his position at Feyernoord shortly after Redknapp’s departure, and later revealed a two and a half year contract offer had been sent by email to him a few days after that.
Despite that, the board decided an experienced British manager was essential and brought in Burley instead.
“I am sure it was Sir Clive Woodward's idea of bringing in the Dutch guys a few years ago. He had interviewed them,” said Wiseman.