Ralph Krueger: Southampton not for sale, says new chairman

Krueger relishing Southampton challenge

New Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has denied that owner Katharina Liebherr wants to sell the club.

Krueger, a former ice hockey player and NHL coach, was named as chairman on Wednesday, replacing Nicola Cortese.

"It is not [for sale]," Krueger told BBC South Today. "Katharina Liebherr is here to grow the club."

The 54-year-old did, however, skirt around the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino, as well as England players Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.

Liebherr, whose father Markus bought the club in 2009 before his death a year later, installed herself as Cortese's replacement eight weeks ago when he quit after five years at St Mary's.

And Krueger said Southampton's owner is fully committed to the club and has relished her time at the helm.

"Katharina has embraced so much of the environment," he said. "She has been visible and coming to games and the smile has been hard to take off her face.

"She is excited about taking this club to another level and doing everything that is possible to nurture that. We know there are a lot of areas to improve on and Katharina wants us to attack those opportunities together."

Krueger said his main challenge was to grow the brand of Southampton at home and abroad, as well as improve communication and relationships with the local community.

He also recognises the need to improve the perception and reputation of the club.

The Canadian-born German, who was a consultant to Canada's gold medal-winning ice hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympics, confirmed he had held positive discussions with Pochettino but refused to confirm whether the Argentine was in talks over a new contract.

Following Cortese's departure Pochettino, whose side currently sit ninth in the Premier League, said he would consider his own future at the end of the season.

"I don't want to breed speculation," Krueger said.

"From the very first moment we realised our values are in line. There is no adjustment to make here.

"We had a lengthy dinner in the middle of January, five hours of discussions that flowed naturally and even though we come from different sports worlds. We speak exactly the same language.

"Everyone knows what we are trying to build on here and we will let everyone know as soon as we have a solution."

Krueger also fell short of easing fears Shaw and Lallana would leave the club in the summer, adding: "We need to be successful on and off the pitch and we will do everything possible to have the best possible team."

During the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Krueger specialised in scouting European opposition for Canada and advised on the differences between international ice hockey and that played in the NHL in North America.

And he says he is keen to re-visit the idea of playing Premier League games abroad, citing the successful example of the NFL bringing matches to Wembley.

"The number one growing sport in America and Canada is football . . . not American football," said Krueger.

"Soccer is booming and there is an opportunity there for us because the Premier League is by far the most respected league in the world, so we have opportunity for growth so let's find opportunities to expand."