TWENTY million pounds - that's the cost of Saints' relegation from the Premiership, and that is just for starters.

The massive fall-off in lucrative television revenue means a drop of at least £14m.

Meanwhile, the lack of free global advertising through the screening of games could result in another £6m being lost from gate receipts and replica shirt sales.

Last season Saints earned £20m from Premiership prize money and Sky revenue, and the parachute payment for 2005/06 is around the £6m mark - this is a figure relegated Premiership teams receive from the league to soften the blow of loss of income.

Last year Saints' chairman Rupert Lowe said: "Our prospects within the industry remain very good, but we are now very reliant upon footballing success in both the Premiership and the FA Cup competitions if we are to flourish financially."

Now the club will be tested sorely with budget constraints tight. Harry Redknapp will have to begin the pruning of his multi-million-pound player budgets, while a Sword of Damocles will hang over backroom staff working at St Mary's - not only on the playing front, but also in some of the administration areas.

In a statement to the club's website today the chairman gave no indication that he was on the verge of quitting.

He added that the players had a clause in their contracts which meant they would take wage cuts if the team was relegated.

''We are going to live within our means - we have no choice about that because we do not have a sugar daddy like Wigan,'' he said.

''I have always said that if someone wants to put £25 million into the club then they can be chairman!''

One of the main liabilities Saints will have to contend with is the impressive 32,000-seater St Mary's Stadium.

The club is four years into paying off a 25-year loan on its £32m stadium. At the end of every August, without fail, £2.4m is paid to the undisclosed lender. The loan is at a fixed interest rate and is not affected by league status.

The price of shares in Southampton Leisure Holdings, the Saints' parent company, had already taken a hammering since the high of last summer and the club's record profits of £2.9m. Last July the price of a share in Saints rocketed to an all-time high of 56p following the team's decent finish in the 2003/04 season.

In the ten months that followed the price of a share in the club kept falling. By April 26 this year, and with the team suffering a 4-1 defeat to arch-rivals Portsmouth, it had dropped to just 27p.

Last week, and before the final nail was hammered into the Saints' Premiership survival, that price had sunk a further 4p to just 23p a share.

Some 27 million shares have currently been issued by the club with thousands of Southampton fans buying into a piece of their team.

Though many fans will have bought shares just as a token of their support for the club, thousands of others have bought them as an investment and it is these people who will suffer financially as a result of the relegation.

Overall, the club's price has sunk from its heights of £16m to today's price of under £8m.

Mr Lowe was due to give a press conference today but his full statement read: "No one wanted us to go down but it has happened and we have to deal with it. It has been a horrible day, by far the worst I can remember since I came here and we are all desperately sad and stunned.

"There will be a lot of emotion over the next couple of days and we probably have to let that pour out before we deal with any recriminations.

"Making decisions in the heat of the moment is never a good idea. We need to let it all settle down. We need to take stock of where we are and how we go from here but fans can be sure we will be doing our best to get back where we belong.

"The battle for promotion starts now! We have a plan and will stay strong. We are not about to disappear into a smoking hole in the ground like some clubs who have slipped out of the Premiership.

"The players have a clause in their contracts which cuts their wages so we will not suffer the same problems as some of the previously relegated clubs. Our wage bill - which was bigger than that of West Brom, Palace and Norwich - will now come into line with our income.

"We are going to live within our means - and we have no choice about that because we do not have a sugar daddy like Wigan. I have always said that if someone wants to put £25m into the club then they can be chairman!

"That has not happened and even though we will lose a lot of revenue through relegation, we will stay on a strong financial footing, Players cannot walk away and the fact their wages are cut means we only have to sell if the price is right. There will be no fire sale or easy pickings here.

"We will lose some of our older players and the next generations of youngsters will come into the squad. And most importantly of all we will ensure there is a club for the next generation of supporters. We will major on self-improvement and work with the very promising raw material we have here. We are spending £1m on the training ground to give the players the very best facilities to maximise their potential.

"There will be more work with our Pro-Zone computer system and will use proven methods to ensure we have the quickest, strongest squad in the division. Going down is a big set-back; there is no doubt about that. But it is not the end of the world - even though it feels like it right now!

"We have fantastic fans here and I am sure they will stay behind us and continue to support their local club. Today is a desperately sad day for us all of us - but we shall be back.''