THERE is a major financial difference between the two men who were at the helm when Saints’ six-year slide ended in administration last month.

While Michael Wilde believes he has lost about £3m since getting involved with Saints, Rupert Lowe, right, has banked about £2.8m in wages and share dividends since 1998.

From the day he took over as chairman until a few weeks after relegation in 2005, he banked £2,306,491.60 – including share dividends.

He earnt a further £167,000 during the financial year of 2005/06 and took a large chunk of a £563,000 compensation package shared with Andrew Cowen when he stepped down at St Mary’s at the end of June 2006.

Though he was only working a few days a week as PLC chairman following his return last May, he was still drawing a salary.

It is not known what that was, but Andrew Cowen told the AGM last December he was earning £25,000 a year as a non-executive director.

Lowe earnt almost £170,000 from share dividends between May 1998-May 2005.

But he had spent more than that in buying shares in the first place.

Lowe paid £44,500 for 40,000 shares at 89p a share shortly after flotation.

He paid Keith Wiseman £72,000 for 180,000 shares at 40p each back in October 1998.

In October 2003 he paid £124,250 for 350,000 shares at 35.5p per share.

In March 2006 he paid another £44,500 for 100,000 shares – his first share buying activity since February 2004.

Lowe’s best year financially was the FA Cup final season of 2002/03 when he earned almost £450,000.

That included a performance bonus of £155,000 – twice the amount he was paying Jan Poortvliet to be head coach!

Lowe’s earnings during his first spell at Saints were only in line – if not slightly below – with other leading businessmen in the Southampton area.

Leon Crouch earned £475,237 in 2005 as the Fuller Group chief compared to Lowe’s £264,000.