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Saints CEO Denies Takeover Rumours & Restart Talks
Monday, 4th May 2020 09:03

St Mary's CEO Martin Semmens has spoken to BBC Radio Solent and has not only quashed takeover rumours but given an update on Project Restart.

A few days ago Sky Sports ran a story claiming that there has been interest in Gao Jisheng's 80 per cent stake in the club by an unnamed US group of investors

However, the coronavirus pandemic is said to have put their plans on ice at last for the time being.

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent, Semmens, Saints' chief executive, said:

“I don’t think so.

"I talk to Mr Gao and Katharina every week and they’ve never discussed this with me, so I think it’s pretty unlikely.

"I did read the report about that US interest, and if you read it again, there’s no fact in it and no detail that is correct.”

In fairness his statement says very little about whether contact has been made or not, in truth even if it had then the Saints CEO would not be in a position to deny or confirm that, so whilst he could be telling the truth, equally he could be under instructions to deny this, there are also still a few variables, not least that in the early stages of a takeover, a CEO is not always in the loop early on with the owners plans.

Contact to buy a football club is not usually through the club itself but via the owners people, so Semmens himself could be blissfully unaware of something that is at an early stage.

Certainly he would be involved at some point, a prospective owner would want to do due diligence and that would be impossible without a CEO's input, but if this is at that early stage Sky claim, then he might not be yet.

In Friday's video conference between the Premier League clubs In what has been dubbed 'Project Restart', it was determined that the Premier League would need up to 40,000 coronavirus tests to complete the remaining 92 games.

Although that sounds a colossal amount it is less than half of the total number the Government is setting out to do in a single day and broken down is only around 430 tests per round of games.

As well as that, Friday's video conference also paved the way for the matches to be played at neutral venues.

"Everybody wants to know where we are going and when we are going to play," added Semmens.

"I think the important thing to stress before we get into the processes is that in reality, it is not a decision that Southampton Football Club is making and in a lot of ways, not really one that the Premier League make on their own.

"It's a government decision and that relationship with the government and the important and qualified people there is really what is key.

"The government make the decision on when we go back to training and when we go back to playing.

"I think they are now in a position, and I think they have been openly clear about that, that they feel we're over the initial peak of the virus and therefore they can begin to talk about getting us all back to work when we can."

So again a bit of non committal information from Martin Semmens, but you can read between the lines.

Many at the moment are frothing at the mouth about football restarting, but as Semmens said the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Government and their medical experts.

Also we are not going to start playing now, but when it is safe to do so and is six weeks time things could be a lot different than they are now.

I have always said that the plan is to start in June, but these plans are not set in stone but flexible and can be changed or even scrapped completely.

Life at some point needs to move forward again, the people need to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, they need to have hope and that means having a strategy in place, just because the situation is bad now doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about the future.

Photo: Action Images

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PatfromPoole added 09:18 - May 4
I am amused that pretty much the whole of the bottom 6 are opposed to playing at neutral grounds, on the basis it goes against the integrity of the competition over the whole season.

Brighton and West Ham are particularly animated about this. Brighton have 5 home games left out of a total of 9 games.

The Prem need 14 teams in favour to get a vote through.

If you were Brighton, West Ham or any of the bottom 6 you would be heavily inclined to mount a legal challenge, which will delay things by months, and by which time the second wave of the virus will be in full swing.

So there will be little choice other than to void the season.

saintmark1976 added 12:37 - May 4
Completing the season behind closed doors is bad enough. Behind closed doors at neutral grounds even worse. Behind closed doors at neutral grounds with the latest suggestion of no relegation being simply farcical.

Whist football still has some limited integrity with the public void the current season and let the Premier League, it's Clubs and the Broadcasters sort their differences in regard to money by mutual agreement. If no agreement is forthcoming they are then free to try and convince a court that they are due compensation from whoever they wish.

schatfield added 16:25 - May 4
Void the season please and deny Liverpool the trophy!!

Although I do like the idea of finishing behind closed doors - our awful home record wont matter then with none of our lovely fans booing our own players

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