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Crouch had two British managers lined up for Saints
LEON Crouch had two former Premiership managers lined up to take charge of Saints had he returned to power last October.
The New Forest businessman claims that last October he had spoken to two managers who had previously won promotion from the Championship.
By the time Crouch met the Saints board on January 23, one was back in work and the other was still unemployed.
He refused to reveal the identity of either man Sources have told the Daily Echo that ex-Saints striker Iain Dowie, who won promotion with Crystal Palace in 2004, was the one unemployed in both months.
There are two managers with experience of winning promotion from the Championship who were out of work in October but in management by late January.
One was Sam Allardyce, who guided Bolton to promotion to the Premiership in 2000 and who was appointed Blackburn manager last December.
The other was Billy Davies, who defeated Saints in the play-off semifinals in 2007 en route to guiding Derby into the top flight. He was also out of work last October but was appointed Nottingham Forest manager in early January.
The Daily Echo today reveals (pages 40 and 41) that Crouch twice proposed investing £2m of his own money into the club last season.
He first put the proposal in writing back in October and again when he met Rupert Lowe and Michael Wilde face to face in January.
The Daily Echo first revealed Crouch’s £2m offer earlier in the year.
H e asked his two fellow major shareholders – Lowe and Wilde – if they too would invest £6m.
There were other proposals as well, but they were all rejected.
Crouch was then invited to St Mary’s on the morning of F r i d a y , January 23.
H e m e t L o w e , W i l d e , Andrew Cowen and David Jones, the four members of the Southampton Leisure Holdings PLC board.
Also in attendance were Paul Davies from Saints’ financial advisors Seymour Pierce and Mark Shepherd, Crouch’s solicitor who works for Reading based Shoosmiths.
Again the proposal was made, and again it was rejected.
Crouch was told he could inject £6m himself and take charge, but he turned that down.
Crouch insists he would have injected his £2m had Lowe and Wilde stepped down either in October or January.
“I made my approach to Lowe and Wilde because I thought it was up to the three major shareholders to save the club,” Crouch said.
“If we had put in £6m then the club would never have been in administration and we wouldn’t have been relegated either,” Crouch stated.
On meeting the Saints board in January, Crouch outlined his concerns at the on-field performances.
“I said we need four or five experienced players to help save us from relegation, and they didn’t dispute that,” he recalled.
“They refused to put in any money and said they would walk away if I put in the whole £6m.
“I couldn’t do that as I haven’t got £6m.
“They could have walked away and I would still have put in my £2m and I would have taken over.
“They would not have that.
“I had two managers lined up, English managers.
“Both of them had won promotion from the Championship before.
“They would have worked for me, they would have come.
“In January when I met the board again one of them was working but one wasn’t.”
Intriguingly, Jan Poortvliet resigned his position as Saints head coach a few hours after Crouch had met the PLC board at St Mary’s.
Crouch doesn’t believe the two events are not linked.
“The meeting I had with the board must have had an impact,” said Crouch.
Following Poortvliet’s departure, Saints immediately appointed Mark Wotte as head coach.
Crouch didn’t agree with appointing Poortvliet in the first place.
“Why did they give Jan Poortvliet 28 games in charge?
“We could all see it was not working.
“They should have said to Poortvliet after 15 games ‘you’ve got five more to prove this is working’.
“The club needed a leader during those times, but where was Rupert Lowe and Michael Wilde?
Crouch didn’t agree with Wotte taking over either.
“I have got nothing against Mark Wotte. I had never met him before the club went into administration,” said Crouch. “I thought appointing him was the wrong decision because we needed an experienced manager with good contacts in the English game.”
Crouch, chairman of the Saints football board from February to August 2007 and from December 2007 to May 2008, added: “My £2m would have saved us from administration.
“Also, the crowds would have instantly gone up to above 20,000.
“I would also have put some of my own money in.
“Because I’m a passionate Saints fan, that’s what I would have done.
“If Lowe and Wilde had walked away and left the club in my hands, we would not have been in administration and we would not have been relegated.
“I could have saved the club in January.”