AN APOLOGY has been given to supporters by Nigel Farage after ex-Saints chairman and Brexit Party MEP Rupert Lowe pulled out as a candidate at the 11th hour.

Brexit Party leader Mr Farage said his respect for Mr Lowe had "gone completely" after he confirmed his withdrawal in Dudley North as Thursday's 4pm nomination deadline passed.

Nigel Farage takes back "disgusting behaviour" comments towards former Saints chairman​

The former Southampton FC chairman's actions prevented the Brexit Party fielding a replacement candidate in the seat, which Ian Austin won for Labour by a 22-vote margin in 2017.

Mr Farage has said it was "disgusting behaviour" and that his respect for Mr Lowe had "gone completely" as a result.

He said: "It was disgusting behaviour. What he probably hasn't told you is that he met a senior official from Number 10 in the middle of last week, somebody quite close to Boris, and this was obviously stitched up.

"If he made a decision, he went and changed course, he's entitled to. But to let everybody else down at the eleventh hour, dreadful behaviour - shocking."

Mr Farage added: "I'm sorry - we have been double-crossed, let down badly by a man who has behaved dishonestly. I'm sorry, that's all I can say."

Rupert, 61, has since put a message on social media saying: "It is with a heavy heart I have decided not to contest Dudley North as a Brexit Party candidate.

"I am putting country before party as it is highly conceivable my candidacy could allow Corbyn’s Momentum candidate to win.

"They are simply not fit to govern."

He became Southampton Football Club's chairman in the mid-1990s and resigned in June 2006 after the club slumped into administration.

He was instrumental in moving the club from The Dell to the new 32,000-seater St Mary's stadium in August 2001.

A statement attached to his tweet added: "I believe that if the Labour Party were to be elected in the forthcoming election Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell with Momentum behind them will devastate Britain and destroy all that decent people have achieved through their hard work and enterprise.

"They are simply not fit to govern and Momentum is the most sinister development in recent British politics, mirroring the beginnings of the Communist Party in the USSR."

The club also reached the FA Cup Final in 2003 when they lost 1.0 against Arsenal. Saints also qualified for the UEFA Cup.