Uneasy with the portrayal of Southampton’s Katharina Liebherr

The general narrative around Southampton doesn’t need to be added to, because everyone seems to be knee-deep in their premature relegation prophecies and assumptions that the current sales are being sanctioned for the financial satisfaction of Katharina Liebherr and her family.

That’s wrong and it really always has been - as BBC Radio Solent‘s interview with Ralph Krueger confirmed, Ronald Koeman has clearance to reinvest substantial amounts of money this Summer and the club are actively working on adding to the squad before the transfer-window closes.

The portrayal of Southampton’s Non-Executive Chairman and owner, Katharina Liebherr, has been galling throughout this process.  Ever since the news broke that Nicola Cortese would be leaving the club back in January, she has been painted as an obstacle to future success - Neil Ashton, The Mail’s tedious little errand boy, actually went as far as to call her a ‘dream wrecker’ six months ago.

The question is, that with little actually known about Liebherr or her intentions for Southampton, how much of this negative coverage has been because of her gender?  The football press is vastly over-populated with white, thirty or forty-something males from similar backgrounds, and it seems that a pulse of latent misogyny has run all the way through the coverage of this episode.  The moment she entered the press’ domain she was instantaneously turned into a Violet Beauregarde character.

If Liebherr was male, would the same assumptions have been made about her and would they have been made as quickly?

This isn’t just a tabloid problem either, as The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson proved this morning - reacting to news of further Southampton sales with a sneering ‘somebody wants their money back’-themed tweet.  Wilson has subsequently deleted that comment and replaced it with a more balanced remark, but it’s evident that there’s a lingering distrust of Liebherr and it was a reminder that it doesn’t take very much for some to revert to the ‘silly little woman’ analysis.

Yes, they’ve sold a lot of players and, yes, at the time of writing that is alarming, but the club are also now sitting on an enormous transfer-budget that they seem intent on spending.  Judge away from September 1st onwards, but not before.

Maybe Liebherr’s association with the club won’t ultimately be seen as a success and maybe she does have long-term self-orientated motives, but the level of gender-based assumption is still disconcerting.

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4 Comments on "Uneasy with the portrayal of Southampton’s Katharina Liebherr"

  1. Good article.

    A very strong case could be made that Kat Liebherr is a model football club owner

    1) She wiped off significant portion of club debt in 2013

    2) When CEO Cortese appeared to be risking the clubs financial stability she intervened,

    (Cortese according to press reports

    -Over spent on training ground
    -Missed targets relating to off field financial performance of club
    - Resisted board scrutiny of the running of the club
    - Awarded himself a very high salary )

    (a significant amount of the press coverage Kat received may be a result of her challenging Cortese and the established football boys club. She also like Alan Sugar stood up against the dubious practices that go in English Football . Brave women)

    3) She has installed much more transparent management

    4) She has promised reinvestment in the club . Of course this promise is still to be delivered.

    5) Given the nature of football it was always going to be hard for Saints to keep a manager who was very loyal to Cortese and has ambition to manage one of top 5 biggest clubs in the world. (Spurs will only be a stepping stone) , When pochettino left he rightly said the club needed a new 5 year plan, it was the end of an era

    6) Once the manager left it was unrealistic for saints to expect players with international caps who had ambition to play in champions league to stay at the club, the club has however got exceptionally good prices for these players

    7) The club has appointed a proven manager with a track record of success in Europe (OK he has been set a daunting challenge , how do you stay up with a budget of £60m + to spend, and a crop of talented youngster but without a team who have ever played together before - Interesting puzzle)

    8) The club remains committed to growing it own talent

    9) Above all Kat appears committed to her fathers legacy and as a result of him the club is in a much better shape than was the case when it faced bankruptcy - If she end up cashing in part of her asset, is that not fair enough for a business women. However regardless of her intentions being short medium or long term I think she will prove herself to one of the shrewdest, most effective and decent of all the chairs of premier league clubs

    All power to Kat, lets hope her courage is rewarded

  2. now that the restructuring as far as exits is complete comms from the club will be reestablished. what business airs its laundry in public? RoKo will, as promised when he signed, now be allowed to build HIS team based around bringing academy players thru as and when they are ready. exciting times to be a saints supporter. .

  3. The problem is that there is no communication fro her personally. For example when it was suggested that a stand was named after her father, a message came back from the CEO that made her sound coy on the idea. Then there is her background. Her father had previously stated that he wasn’t really interested in football unfilled Cortese came to him with the project, so it has been assumed by saints fans that she was similar. That added to the fact that she and Cortese parted company begs the question “what is she in it for”. There is gender bias against women in football I. I just don’t think that it is the reason for mistrust on this occasion.

  4. Good to hear that Rodriguez and Schneiderlin will not be joining Spurs at least at present. What most of the press conveniently overlook is the fact that the beautiful game has been systematically corrupted by the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, MuFC, Chelsea etc. aided by those who have put themselves in place and are supposed to govern it for the benefit of all, FIFA, UEFA and the FA. In any other situation there would be a widespread outcry about how the fair play rules have been bastardised by the likes of these bodies and teams but the media sits quietly by I am sure that in time a truth will emerge about backhanders to sections of the press. If anyone had the interests of the British game at heart they should bring in rules that ensured existing debt is properly taken account of in the fair play rules, mandatory spending on player development and penalties for fielding more than 5 non-British players backed by a fine per player per game and I mean a sizeable fine. Then were would Mourinhio and Wenger be. Do not fear for the Saints they have done things properly and still have a fantastic group of academy players to fall back on backed up by spending from these events. Do fear for the beautiful game that is being strangled to death by the ‘big teams’ the corrupt or inept regulators and a compliant media.

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