JIM Hone admits the new board of directors spent money the club didn't have in the summer.

But the St Mary's chief executive is in no mood to offer any apologies for the close season spending spree.

During the first eight weeks of the Michael Wilde regime, the new directors sanctioned the arrival of ten new players.

Over £5m was spent on the likes of Rudi Skacel (£1.6m), Pele (£900,000), Kelvin Davis (£800,000), Bradley Wright-Phillips (£750,000), Jhon Viafara (£750,000) and Inigo Idiakez (£250,000).

The money was spent for one reason only - to get Saints back into the cash-rich Premiership.

If George Burley can indeed win promotion this season, Hone reckons the elevation back into the top flight would be worth around £55m to the club.

To that end, a £5m investment seems chicken feed.

"What was clear pretty quickly after coming into the company was that there was no reserves, what some might call a warchest," said Hone.

"Money that had been brought in by player trading was just used to keep the company afloat.

"When we came in we had no idea what we would find."

Saints' yearly accounts released last week showed a loss of £3.3m in the 13 months ending June 30, 2006 - ironically, the day former chairman Rupert Lowe quit.

During that period, Saints sold Peter Crouch, Theo Walcott, Antti Niemi, Nigel Quashie and Kevin Phillips for around £14m.

"If not for selling players, the losses would be absolutely horrendous," Hone added.

So without any warchest', how have Saints paid for their manager's close season rebuilding.

"It's in staged payments for the players, but it's been done on debt by and large," Hone revealed.

He added: "The priority after we came in was to make money available to the manager.

"There are plans to refinance the business to bring new investment in. By that, we mean new investment.

"If we go up this season, the new investment won't be so necessary."

For full story see today's Daily Echo.