Thursday, 9 July 2009

Saint Markus of Switzerland

Well, it's finally over.

After what seems to have become an annual summer ritual discussing who would be taking over a Southampton FC,(of course no-one ever did) this year it became a necessity. Forced into administration, without a buyer the club was in danger of disappearing completely.

As is always the case with Saints the sorry tale took many twists and turns before reaching it's conclusion.And what a conclusion.

Step forward Markus Liebherr. A name that, until the day before it all happened, was unknown to virtually all Saints fans. Whilst other interested - or maybe not really interested - parties ensured themselves plenty of press coverage the silent secretive Swiss remained quietly in the background before coming up with the goods.

Our new owner is a member of the Liebherr family who have built up a huge fortune with their engineering business - which includes supplying 2 recently installed massive cranes at Southampton Docks. Markus withdrew from the family business several years ago to work on new projects but is still worth a reported £2.5 billion in his own right. Yes that's billion, with a B. He has no intention of us doing a "Chelski", it would appear that his intentions are to take things one step at a time and methodically work our way back to where we belong, spending when necessary but not throwing money around needlessly. Sounds good to me.

How things can change. After suffering the torment of Rupert Lowe, relegation, administration, another relegation, points deductions and the serious possibility of disappearing we suddenly find ourselves in the old Third Division with minus 10 points and the 4th richest owner in English football.

I'll just repeat that. The 4th richest owner in English football.

Money doesn't of course automatically buy success - ask QPR. And I've always said I would never want a rich "sugar-daddy" taking over my club, it just wouldn't be us

But I was talking bollocks.

It sure as hell feels great.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Liberty Returns

It's good to hear that the Statue of Liberty is to re-open to the public. It has remained closed since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on 11th September 2001, presumably because the Americans saw it as an iconic target for further attacks.

It's also good to hear that once it is re-opened visitor numbers will be restricted. I "done" the Statue in 1988, and it has to be the biggest disappointment of any tourist attraction I have ever visited anywhere, anytime. As the video below mentions visitors used to (as did I) queue for a couple of hours to get to the top. This was split approximately 50/50, an hour to get in and an hour shuffling very slowly one step at a time up a very tight 354 step spiral stairway. Once I eventually found myself at the top I was behind a small row of dirty windows that form the base of the crown. It would have offered amazing views of downtown Manhattan and the surrounding area if a) the windows had be cleaner ; and b) the pressure of hundreds of others following me up one step at a time left no choice but to have the briefest of glances before you heading back down a similar spiral stairway. By reducing the numbers to sensible levels visitors will have a proper chance to take in the view, as does the reporter in the video. More interesting than the external view was the fact that during the slow tortuous journey up and down you could - and still can - see the entire structure from the inside. A spectacular lady from outside but a structural-engineering wonder from within.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to pay another visit to New York one day. Whether I bother re-visiting the statue I'm not sure . The nearby Statten Island ferry offers far more spectacular views for much less cost and in far less time, probably the best ferry ride in the world.