New chief talks up Saints' potential

Basingstoke Gazette: New chief talks up Saints' potential New chief talks up Saints' potential

New Saints chairman Ralph Krueger believes the potential of the club is unlimited, but insists they must move quickly to close the “huge gap” that exists commercially at St Mary’s.

The 54-year-old formally took up his position this week, but he and the rest of owner Katharina Liebherr’s board have already been analysing what needs to be done.

Krueger did not want to speak about the previous regime at St Mary’s, but, while he is thrilled with the state of the football department that has been inherited, he is not impressed with the club’s commercial standing, which he believes is lagging behind many of their Premier League rivals.

“We have a huge gap between where we are today and where we need to be commercially,” he said. “A huge gap.

“That needs to be closed so there is growth opportunity. I am not telling you everything is going to be easy. But we have a hell of a foundation.”

One area where the club could quickly strengthen its standing is in sponsorship.

Their headline deal with Southampton-based IT and business solutions company aap3, which was signed when Saints were promoted from League One, expires this summer.

That gives the club an opportunity to either strike a fresh and improved agreement, or find a new main sponsor.

Krueger is clearly looking at a number of ways in which Saints can grow, though.

“There’s the local market, there’s the international market, there’s the work with sponsors and partners,” he said.

“I’m really excited to get involved and support that. It’s going to be one of my major focuses, to support that arm of the organisation.

“The sky’s the limit there.”

Krueger said improving commercially will strengthen the ability to keep key players at the club, and also make them more self-sustainable.

“[Katharina] wants it to be a healthy sports model,” he said. “I’ll be honest with you, I wouldn’t have taken this position if I didn’t see that was possible, and it’s very possible, and it is something we’re going to work for every day.”

When pressed for specifics on what was planned on the commercial side, Krueger gave little away.

“We’re at the beginning of that conversation, and it’s a big one,” he said.

“I think that, let’s come in the next few weeks to the financial side of things, which will be laid more open for you and then we will come with solutions there.”

But Krueger, who is keen to foster good relationships with other clubs and the business community, speaks of there being a “huge upside” commercially, and not just within England.

“I believe the potential is unlimited,” he said. “This league is going worldwide.

“One of the areas I hope to be able to help the club in is growing outside of Southampton.

“Growing the company outside of England is something I am very active about.”

Speaking of his plans broadly, Krueger added: “Politically, getting extremely active with the league and the environment around us here, having a good relationship with the city are important and building blocks for the future. I will be very active here.”

Comments (6)

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8:57am Fri 14 Mar 14

mack chinnon says...

It would be nice if we could enjoy the kind of sponsorship deal that Citeh enjoy with their owners.
It would be nice if we could enjoy the kind of sponsorship deal that Citeh enjoy with their owners. mack chinnon
  • Score: 2

9:05am Fri 14 Mar 14

mgprobert says...

In terms of communication its the complete opposite of Nicola, and the new team are clearly trying very hard to push the openness and transparency of their way of working now. In terms of the message however, I'm sure the fans would like to hear more about building the team and progressing up the league rather than maximising the shirt sale opportunities. You can't win though - if you are more open people are going to pick up on everything like that.
In terms of communication its the complete opposite of Nicola, and the new team are clearly trying very hard to push the openness and transparency of their way of working now. In terms of the message however, I'm sure the fans would like to hear more about building the team and progressing up the league rather than maximising the shirt sale opportunities. You can't win though - if you are more open people are going to pick up on everything like that. mgprobert
  • Score: 5

10:46am Fri 14 Mar 14

justaSaintsfan says...

A new approach to the commercial side of Saints has very long been overdue. Ralph Krueger is so right about the sky being the limit!

This is not only about selling Saints shirts!

I agree that the sky actually is the limit, but would like to see the profile of Saints quickly raised in the Southampton area to a much higher level. Perhaps it might help to relocate the Saints shop in the West Quay mall to somewhere more noticeable, instead of seeming to be hidden away! I think there is also great potential to grow the Saints brand in all sorts of other ways locally. Perhaps Katharina Liebherr can help by looking into the possibility for people to buy Liebherr branded fridges, etcetera, with a small part of the cost going to Saints. More could be done to encourage people to visit St. Marys for stadium tours or to have a meal or a drink. St. Marys is currently more like Fort Knox, with much attention paid to security, than a place which has areas within that actually welcome visitors. I have seen inside big sports stadia in North America, where the public are actually welcome! For instance, Green Bay Packers allow the public into parts of their stadium on a daily basis to eat meals, have a drink and socialise. People there can walk in off the street and buy a ticket for a scheduled stadium tour on the same day. The Green Bay community is very involved with Packers, to the extent that locals consider them an important part of their daily lives. This is not yet the Southampton Way!!! Perhaps that can be addressed and improved upon. What about a Saints museum in St. Marys?

The point I am trying to make here is that there is huge potential for Saints locally, as well as farther afield. I reckon Saints could make a start by making St. Marys a real hub for the local community, where people will want to go regularly, not just on match days. Quite frankly, the facilities at the stadium are under used and wasted most of the time because until now, most emphasis has always been placed on selling expensive match day packages, which include meals.

Saints have the advantage of a huge catchment area, possibly bigger than the catchment area of any other Premier League club. I think there is great opportunity to exploit it. If the new board of directors at Saints can ensure that the club much more actively engages with its public in the local area, that would make a very refreshing change and would surely lead both to more profits and more support for the club.
A new approach to the commercial side of Saints has very long been overdue. Ralph Krueger is so right about the sky being the limit! This is not only about selling Saints shirts! I agree that the sky actually is the limit, but would like to see the profile of Saints quickly raised in the Southampton area to a much higher level. Perhaps it might help to relocate the Saints shop in the West Quay mall to somewhere more noticeable, instead of seeming to be hidden away! I think there is also great potential to grow the Saints brand in all sorts of other ways locally. Perhaps Katharina Liebherr can help by looking into the possibility for people to buy Liebherr branded fridges, etcetera, with a small part of the cost going to Saints. More could be done to encourage people to visit St. Marys for stadium tours or to have a meal or a drink. St. Marys is currently more like Fort Knox, with much attention paid to security, than a place which has areas within that actually welcome visitors. I have seen inside big sports stadia in North America, where the public are actually welcome! For instance, Green Bay Packers allow the public into parts of their stadium on a daily basis to eat meals, have a drink and socialise. People there can walk in off the street and buy a ticket for a scheduled stadium tour on the same day. The Green Bay community is very involved with Packers, to the extent that locals consider them an important part of their daily lives. This is not yet the Southampton Way!!! Perhaps that can be addressed and improved upon. What about a Saints museum in St. Marys? The point I am trying to make here is that there is huge potential for Saints locally, as well as farther afield. I reckon Saints could make a start by making St. Marys a real hub for the local community, where people will want to go regularly, not just on match days. Quite frankly, the facilities at the stadium are under used and wasted most of the time because until now, most emphasis has always been placed on selling expensive match day packages, which include meals. Saints have the advantage of a huge catchment area, possibly bigger than the catchment area of any other Premier League club. I think there is great opportunity to exploit it. If the new board of directors at Saints can ensure that the club much more actively engages with its public in the local area, that would make a very refreshing change and would surely lead both to more profits and more support for the club. justaSaintsfan
  • Score: 8

2:09pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Cincinnati says...

The man seems full of interesting ideas and seems greatly enthused about his new job. Lets see in the months ahead what he is able to produce.
The man seems full of interesting ideas and seems greatly enthused about his new job. Lets see in the months ahead what he is able to produce. Cincinnati
  • Score: 1

3:15pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Costa Baz says...

With RK being a well respected figure in Canada and Germany, can we expect our next pre-season tour to take in either of those countries?
That would help to build our profile.
Might also be able to open us up to young German players, looking to join a well respected football academy, whilst practising their English language skills.
With RK being a well respected figure in Canada and Germany, can we expect our next pre-season tour to take in either of those countries? That would help to build our profile. Might also be able to open us up to young German players, looking to join a well respected football academy, whilst practising their English language skills. Costa Baz
  • Score: 1

7:46am Sat 15 Mar 14

REDARMYRULETHESOUTH says...

THERE IS A MASSIVE GAP TO FILL.

THE SUCCESS OF HIS TENURE WILL BE MEASURED BY HOW WELL WE FILL THAT COMMERCIAL GAP.

WISH RALPH "FREDDY" KRUEGER WELL.

COYR
THERE IS A MASSIVE GAP TO FILL. THE SUCCESS OF HIS TENURE WILL BE MEASURED BY HOW WELL WE FILL THAT COMMERCIAL GAP. WISH RALPH "FREDDY" KRUEGER WELL. COYR REDARMYRULETHESOUTH
  • Score: 2

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