The Southampton chairman, Rupert Lowe, said yesterday that he wanted the relegated club to keep players like Peter Crouch, Nigel Quashie and Antti Niemi and added that he would try to persuade his manager, Harry Redknapp, to stay in charge.
Lowe, who was speaking after fans called for his resignation on Sunday, said that it was not fair for him to take all the blame for Southampton's first relegation from the top flight in 27 years and added that the club could still afford the repayments on its new £32m St Mary's stadium.
The Southampton chairman's claim that the club would be able to keep its best players contrasted with Redknapp's comments on Sunday when he said that many of his squad were on contracts which oblige them to take pay cuts in the event of relegation. Redknapp added that Olivier Bernard was on his way to Birmingham City and hinted that Crouch would be leaving, too.
As well as admitting that loan signings Calum Davenport, from Tottenham, and Celtic's Henri Camara would have to return, Redknapp said that he had not yet decided whether he would carry on in the Championship next season. Although he has not made up his mind completely, he did say that Southampton would be his last job in football management.
Lowe will have to juggle the demands of the £2.4m repayments on St Mary's with holding together a squad whose stars are likely to find their Championship wages bettered by offers from the Premiership. But the Southampton chairman, who has also lost his seat on the Football Association main board, said that he would not simply resign.
"Just as I didn't expect to take all the glory when we got to the FA Cup final [in 2002] I don't think I should take all the blame now," he said. "As the person at the top of the organisation I have to take my share of that responsibility but if you are asking me if I am going to quit, then the answer is no. I am not a quitter.
"This is the biggest setback the club has suffered under my chairmanship and, arguably, since we were promoted 27 years ago. It is a big problem but we will resolve it. Yes, I am upset as anybody at what has happened is but I'm intent on putting that right.
"I have been criticised for nine years since I've been here. Someone with a name like Rupert in football is going to be. I take a share of the blame - as do the board, as does Harry Redknapp, as do the players, but I don't think you can apportion blame entirely on management changes."
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