Derek Llambias in frame to replace Nicola Cortese as Southampton chairman
Former Newcastle United managing director Derek Llambias willing to end career hiatus for Southampton chair left cold by Nicola Cortese's stormy resignation.
Llambias resigned from his position at St James’ Park a few days after Newcastle owner Mike Ashley appointed Joe Kinnear as director of football last June and has been taking a break from the game. But he would be willing to speak to Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr to see whether a job at St Mary’s would work for the both of them.
Cortese quit last week after refusing to cede power to Liebherr at Southampton even though she inherited the club. It is believed she was increasingly concerned at an apparent lack of accountability and wanted greater involvement.
Les Reed, Southampton’s football development director, has stepped up temporarily to fill the breach left by Cortese’s departure but Liebherr wants to appoint an experienced chief executive or executive chairman and does not want to run the club herself.
She has also moved to reassure the club’s supporters that players will not be sold this month, although West Ham have not yet given up on trying to sign striker Rickie Lambert for £7 million. Lambert, 31, is keen to explore the possibility of a move.
Liebherr has also held talks with manager Mauricio Pochettino to stress how important he is to Southampton’s future. The Argentinian is expected to review his position at the end of the season but with 17 months left on his contract the club are expected to offer him a new deal before then to head off potential suitors.
Llambias, although unpopular with Newcastle supporters because of his allegiance to Ashley, was a key figure in shaping the club’s transfer strategy, which has seen them make a number of impressively cheap signings in France. Those achievements have made him an attractive proposition for the Saints board in the wake of Cortese’s resignation.
Llambias was also asked about becoming the chief executive of Rangers last year, but he did not want to move to Scotland as his family are based in the south-east. Southampton would be a far more attractive option.