Katharina Liebherr sold her vision for Southampton FC to Ralph Krueger Krueger

Ralph Krueger with Katharina Liebherr at St Mary’s.

Ralph Krueger with Katharina Liebherr at St Mary’s.

First published in Sport
Last updated
Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

Ralph Krueger has revealed it was Katharina Liebherr’s vision for Saints that persuaded him to join the club.

The 54-year-old former ice hockey coach officially began life as the new chairman at St Mary’s this week, although he has been involved ever since Nicola Cortese’s departure in January.

Krueger, a renowned leadership expert, came to know the Liebherr family, and Saints owner Katharina, through his speaking career.

He explained it was Liebherr who persuaded him to join Saints, turning his back on five offers to return to the NHL, where he had previously coached the Edmonton Oilers.

“My relationship with Katharina Liebherr is the foundation of everything here,” said Krueger, who was a special adviser to Canada’s gold-medal-winning team at last month’s Winter Olympics.

“I had a fresh slate after the Olympic Games and had been pondering different avenues to go down when the question, or the possibility, of this situation arised.

“I parked everything else immediately. “I had been looking at a lot of options, also within my original sport, because this is now my sport, football, and nothing really was available anymore that I felt I could grow as a leader and be challenged.

“I challenged all those years as a manager of teams. I challenged my players every day to get better and to try go somewhere they’ve never been and try to have something difficult on their plate in the morning when they get up to continue that growth.

“This, really, when it came up was that challenge. I don’t expect this to be easy, but what I felt in Katharina was her values.”

Krueger added: “There was nothing that interested me, or excited me, like this.”

The Canadian-born German, who used to be a professional ice hockey player, began a speaking career when he moved into coaching, passing on his philosophies on leadership and teamwork.

It was through that work that he came to know the Liebherr businesses and the family.

“There is just such a deeply-rooted value set in that organisation in the way they’re very humble, extremely humble, in the way they operate,” he said.

“When I saw this evolving and then the call came in January to come and take a look, I was open because of Katharina. “I am here because of her, number one.”

While Krueger is Liebherr’s key appointment, the daughter of Saints’ late owner, Markus, will remain on the parent company’s board, also alongside interim chief executive Gareth Rogers and lawyer Hans Hofstetter, and will continue to have a close involvement at the club.

“Katharina will be actively involved,” said Krueger. “She has really enjoyed getting involved.

“Her father’s spirit is with her every time she walks in the stadium.

“Yes, she has a family, yes, she has other things going on, but this has become a very important priority for her.”

Krueger added: “From day one, it has been very natural, easy and refreshing. She is in the conversations. She cares.

“She has really good insight and very creative in her ideas and I look forward to implementing those for her. It was natural.

“The sports side was important to her, that I understood major league sports, because if you don’t get it in major league sports, that would be a huge blocking point.”

Comments (19)

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6:28am Fri 14 Mar 14

Velleity says...

More and more I'm realising that my impression of Katharina was incorrect; she does care about what's happening here. I appear to have largely misread her (like many people, I think). Then again, who could come along to St Mary's and NOT be moved?

As for Krueger, I have to say, he certainly says all the right things - I'm looking forward to his delivering results.
More and more I'm realising that my impression of Katharina was incorrect; she does care about what's happening here. I appear to have largely misread her (like many people, I think). Then again, who could come along to St Mary's and NOT be moved? As for Krueger, I have to say, he certainly says all the right things - I'm looking forward to his delivering results. Velleity
  • Score: 9

7:35am Fri 14 Mar 14

Chipmonk1 says...

KL seems to have a good sense of getting good people around her and it would seem that Ralph fits that description. I am happy with the way she has handled the whole Cortese thing. Ask Cardiff and Fulham fans if they are happy with their owners. In fact the list is even longer than those two. Words arw cheap compared to actions but I am encouraged by the references that have been made to the fans and the history of the club. This was possibly Cortese's only slight failing. Onwards and upwards then. COYR.
KL seems to have a good sense of getting good people around her and it would seem that Ralph fits that description. I am happy with the way she has handled the whole Cortese thing. Ask Cardiff and Fulham fans if they are happy with their owners. In fact the list is even longer than those two. Words arw cheap compared to actions but I am encouraged by the references that have been made to the fans and the history of the club. This was possibly Cortese's only slight failing. Onwards and upwards then. COYR. Chipmonk1
  • Score: 63

7:50am Fri 14 Mar 14

Little Hitler says...

Velleity wrote:
More and more I'm realising that my impression of Katharina was incorrect; she does care about what's happening here. I appear to have largely misread her (like many people, I think). Then again, who could come along to St Mary's and NOT be moved? As for Krueger, I have to say, he certainly says all the right things - I'm looking forward to his delivering results.
I think a lot of people unfairly labelled her the minute she took over the club. I was pretty shocked at the way some people on here (and in the media) treated her and was concerned that it would have scared her off.

She's clearly made of stronger stuff than that though and is beginning to look like a total gem.

We really fell on our feet with the Liebher family and us fans would do well to remember thet they're far more important than any chairman, manager or player.
[quote][p][bold]Velleity[/bold] wrote: More and more I'm realising that my impression of Katharina was incorrect; she does care about what's happening here. I appear to have largely misread her (like many people, I think). Then again, who could come along to St Mary's and NOT be moved? As for Krueger, I have to say, he certainly says all the right things - I'm looking forward to his delivering results.[/p][/quote]I think a lot of people unfairly labelled her the minute she took over the club. I was pretty shocked at the way some people on here (and in the media) treated her and was concerned that it would have scared her off. She's clearly made of stronger stuff than that though and is beginning to look like a total gem. We really fell on our feet with the Liebher family and us fans would do well to remember thet they're far more important than any chairman, manager or player. Little Hitler
  • Score: 24

8:21am Fri 14 Mar 14

Malcombe says...

Chipmonk1

I owe you an apology I clicked for thumbs up and missed to thumbs down very sorry because it's a good comment, I'll get the wife to slap my backside
Chipmonk1 I owe you an apology I clicked for thumbs up and missed to thumbs down very sorry because it's a good comment, I'll get the wife to slap my backside Malcombe
  • Score: 25

8:23am Fri 14 Mar 14

Saintsayer II says...

KL comes over as being honest more than anything else What I would like to hear from her or KL is a 5 year plan
KL comes over as being honest more than anything else What I would like to hear from her or KL is a 5 year plan Saintsayer II
  • Score: 29

9:11am Fri 14 Mar 14

There's only one 'H' in 'Ampshire says...

What a great team
And Daily Echo - please update your photo of KL from that one where she looks like she's just been shocked
What a great team And Daily Echo - please update your photo of KL from that one where she looks like she's just been shocked There's only one 'H' in 'Ampshire
  • Score: 12

9:16am Fri 14 Mar 14

hedge end bob says...

Malcombe wrote:
Chipmonk1 I owe you an apology I clicked for thumbs up and missed to thumbs down very sorry because it's a good comment, I'll get the wife to slap my backside
Two wrongs don't make it right, your wife should smack Chipmonk's backside !!!!
[quote][p][bold]Malcombe[/bold] wrote: Chipmonk1 I owe you an apology I clicked for thumbs up and missed to thumbs down very sorry because it's a good comment, I'll get the wife to slap my backside[/p][/quote]Two wrongs don't make it right, your wife should smack Chipmonk's backside !!!! hedge end bob
  • Score: 4

9:30am Fri 14 Mar 14

hedge end bob says...

To show Katharina just what the lady , like her father before her , means to the fans of our great club . Could we all join together and sing there's only one KATHARINA as well as WALKING IN THE LIEBHERR'S WONDERLAND.
Long may the relationship between Club and Local Newspaper last. Everything seems to read much better of late. New owner , new board , new plans and possibily a better run club.
OH TO BE A SAINTS FAN NOW THAT KATHARINA'S HERE.
To show Katharina just what the lady , like her father before her , means to the fans of our great club . Could we all join together and sing there's only one KATHARINA as well as WALKING IN THE LIEBHERR'S WONDERLAND. Long may the relationship between Club and Local Newspaper last. Everything seems to read much better of late. New owner , new board , new plans and possibily a better run club. OH TO BE A SAINTS FAN NOW THAT KATHARINA'S HERE. hedge end bob
  • Score: 23

10:13am Fri 14 Mar 14

Confucious says...

hedge end bob wrote:
To show Katharina just what the lady , like her father before her , means to the fans of our great club . Could we all join together and sing there's only one KATHARINA as well as WALKING IN THE LIEBHERR'S WONDERLAND.
Long may the relationship between Club and Local Newspaper last. Everything seems to read much better of late. New owner , new board , new plans and possibily a better run club.
OH TO BE A SAINTS FAN NOW THAT KATHARINA'S HERE.
Seconded!
[quote][p][bold]hedge end bob[/bold] wrote: To show Katharina just what the lady , like her father before her , means to the fans of our great club . Could we all join together and sing there's only one KATHARINA as well as WALKING IN THE LIEBHERR'S WONDERLAND. Long may the relationship between Club and Local Newspaper last. Everything seems to read much better of late. New owner , new board , new plans and possibily a better run club. OH TO BE A SAINTS FAN NOW THAT KATHARINA'S HERE.[/p][/quote]Seconded! Confucious
  • Score: 13

10:39am Fri 14 Mar 14

Strasbourg Saint says...

Confucious wrote:
hedge end bob wrote:
To show Katharina just what the lady , like her father before her , means to the fans of our great club . Could we all join together and sing there's only one KATHARINA as well as WALKING IN THE LIEBHERR'S WONDERLAND.
Long may the relationship between Club and Local Newspaper last. Everything seems to read much better of late. New owner , new board , new plans and possibily a better run club.
OH TO BE A SAINTS FAN NOW THAT KATHARINA'S HERE.
Seconded!
Thirded!
[quote][p][bold]Confucious[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]hedge end bob[/bold] wrote: To show Katharina just what the lady , like her father before her , means to the fans of our great club . Could we all join together and sing there's only one KATHARINA as well as WALKING IN THE LIEBHERR'S WONDERLAND. Long may the relationship between Club and Local Newspaper last. Everything seems to read much better of late. New owner , new board , new plans and possibily a better run club. OH TO BE A SAINTS FAN NOW THAT KATHARINA'S HERE.[/p][/quote]Seconded![/p][/quote]Thirded! Strasbourg Saint
  • Score: 13

11:07am Fri 14 Mar 14

redsnapper says...

I am beginning to like "Freddy" Kreuger very much, good communications area great start.....now how about having a look at Fabinski who is refusin a new contract at Arsenal????????????
I am beginning to like "Freddy" Kreuger very much, good communications area great start.....now how about having a look at Fabinski who is refusin a new contract at Arsenal???????????? redsnapper
  • Score: 3

11:25am Fri 14 Mar 14

Independence for Marchwood says...

I just spat my tea all over the keyboard. I read "Katherina sold Saints", then I found my glasses and read the rest.
I just spat my tea all over the keyboard. I read "Katherina sold Saints", then I found my glasses and read the rest. Independence for Marchwood
  • Score: 8

11:26am Fri 14 Mar 14

Mister E says...

Strasbourg Saint wrote:
Confucious wrote:
hedge end bob wrote:
To show Katharina just what the lady , like her father before her , means to the fans of our great club . Could we all join together and sing there's only one KATHARINA as well as WALKING IN THE LIEBHERR'S WONDERLAND.
Long may the relationship between Club and Local Newspaper last. Everything seems to read much better of late. New owner , new board , new plans and possibily a better run club.
OH TO BE A SAINTS FAN NOW THAT KATHARINA'S HERE.
Seconded!
Thirded!
Fourthed!
(If there is such a thing!)
(What the hell, there is now!)

Really impressed with the them!
[quote][p][bold]Strasbourg Saint[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Confucious[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]hedge end bob[/bold] wrote: To show Katharina just what the lady , like her father before her , means to the fans of our great club . Could we all join together and sing there's only one KATHARINA as well as WALKING IN THE LIEBHERR'S WONDERLAND. Long may the relationship between Club and Local Newspaper last. Everything seems to read much better of late. New owner , new board , new plans and possibily a better run club. OH TO BE A SAINTS FAN NOW THAT KATHARINA'S HERE.[/p][/quote]Seconded![/p][/quote]Thirded![/p][/quote]Fourthed! (If there is such a thing!) (What the hell, there is now!) Really impressed with the them! Mister E
  • Score: 11

11:48am Fri 14 Mar 14

DisplacedFan says...

There were too many who came on here- most were not regulars- who immediately made huge judgements and some were quite visceral in attacking her personally. These comments were most unfortunate and hopefully not read by her, but I believe she understood the flavour. Let' s be more cautious in our thinking and leave the negative thinking for the blue few. KL has clearly come to love our team and city - why else would she spend so much time here!
There were too many who came on here- most were not regulars- who immediately made huge judgements and some were quite visceral in attacking her personally. These comments were most unfortunate and hopefully not read by her, but I believe she understood the flavour. Let' s be more cautious in our thinking and leave the negative thinking for the blue few. KL has clearly come to love our team and city - why else would she spend so much time here! DisplacedFan
  • Score: 9

12:17pm Fri 14 Mar 14

lowe esteem says...

...and before we get the inevitable jumping to the wrong conclusions, Echo, please trawl through your John Bull outfit for some inverted commas, and place them thus:

"sold"

...and to the 'could of/should of' brigade, this means: sold an idea or concept, so they 'get it' -do you get it? Mr Krueger has not bought Saints, but he has been brought into it.
...and before we get the inevitable jumping to the wrong conclusions, Echo, please trawl through your John Bull outfit for some inverted commas, and place them thus: "sold" ...and to the 'could of/should of' brigade, this means: sold an idea or concept, so they 'get it' -do you get it? Mr Krueger has not bought Saints, but he has been brought into it. lowe esteem
  • Score: 3

12:22pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Datarater says...

Saintsayer II wrote:
KL comes over as being honest more than anything else What I would like to hear from her or KL is a 5 year plan
Please stop trying to plan. Let's take it step by step and as Ralph says help people achieve their potential.
[quote][p][bold]Saintsayer II[/bold] wrote: KL comes over as being honest more than anything else What I would like to hear from her or KL is a 5 year plan[/p][/quote]Please stop trying to plan. Let's take it step by step and as Ralph says help people achieve their potential. Datarater
  • Score: 5

4:18pm Fri 14 Mar 14

jasons odd says...

Yes , but what is k liebherrs vision ?/????

Is it financially self sustaining , bringing through youth , and staying in mid table ?

Or

Corteses ambitious vision of pushing on and becoming a champion league club ?
Yes , but what is k liebherrs vision ?/???? Is it financially self sustaining , bringing through youth , and staying in mid table ? Or Corteses ambitious vision of pushing on and becoming a champion league club ? jasons odd
  • Score: 0

4:25pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Positively4thStreet says...

Saintsayer II wrote:
KL comes over as being honest more than anything else What I would like to hear from her or KL is a 5 year plan
The only thing she could possibly do wrong,is to come on at half time tomorrow,and shout "Let's be 'avin yer !!" ;0)
[quote][p][bold]Saintsayer II[/bold] wrote: KL comes over as being honest more than anything else What I would like to hear from her or KL is a 5 year plan[/p][/quote]The only thing she could possibly do wrong,is to come on at half time tomorrow,and shout "Let's be 'avin yer !!" ;0) Positively4thStreet
  • Score: 6

4:26pm Fri 14 Mar 14

NC Fan4Life says...

I always believed that Katharina would do right by us, after all why would she throw away all that has been done since her father (God Bless Him) bought the club. We are lucky to have her and she clearly does care about Saints. As the owner she is more important to us than any Player/Manager/Direc
tor.
Katharina is proving to be a very astute business woman and is appointing a strong experienced team around her. We now look to be a very professional and well set up club, as I said before the bus is becoming a juggernaut !!
Thank you Katharina we are proud Saints fans again !!
I always believed that Katharina would do right by us, after all why would she throw away all that has been done since her father (God Bless Him) bought the club. We are lucky to have her and she clearly does care about Saints. As the owner she is more important to us than any Player/Manager/Direc tor. Katharina is proving to be a very astute business woman and is appointing a strong experienced team around her. We now look to be a very professional and well set up club, as I said before the bus is becoming a juggernaut !! Thank you Katharina we are proud Saints fans again !! NC Fan4Life
  • Score: 5

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