Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr recently injected a £20M loan into the club, with a view to boost transfer funds for a lucrative summer of spending. The South Coast club has seen its aspirations of finishing in a Champions League place fall by the wayside in recent weeks, but the Saints still stand an outside chance of Europa League football.
Last summer saw an exodus at St Mary’s, with the sales of Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert seeing the Saints raise over £100M. The money was reinvested in new signings, and chief executive Gareth Rogers has revealed Liebherr’s plans to continue transforming the club.
“(The £20M loan) really demonstrates her commitment to the club to a certain extent. She had decisions to make in the summer. She could have sold the players and cleared her debts in the club but said we had that money to reinvest. She showed commitment by adding an additional £20m to pay for things such as the legacy of the training ground, past transfer fees – all the things you cannot avoid,” he said.
Liebherr’s commitment to the club has been questioned in the past by the supporters, as well as pundits, as many felt she wouldn’t be able to bring the club forward if she weren’t bold enough to invest sufficient funds in the club. Rodgers has stressed her commitment to the cause is never in question.
“She was here at the Christmas party, we fly over to see her regularly to update her, she comes to games. I’m not quite sure what more we can say to convince you. It seems to be an eternal question that wants to be asked because everyone wants a different answer.”
The chief executive also gave an insight into how the Southampton hierarchy have been planning for every eventuality, and would act accordingly depending on their final position. Next season, the aim will be to continue their push for the Champions League, with this season’s Premier League finish set to be higher than the 2013/14 final position of 8th.
“Like any business we scenario-plan – four months ago we sat down and ran through the three different scenarios. Therefore, are we ready for European football? I would say yes. If you look at the infrastructure off the pitch we believe it’s the best in British football.”
So can Southampton bring Champions League football to St Mary’s with lucrative investment in the summer?