sport

'Saints can be like Packers'

Southampton's new chairman Ralph Krueger wants the club to become the Green Bay Packers of the Premier League.

Krueger, appointed by Saints owner Katharina Liebherr this week, says the club has huge potential for growth, particularly outside of Hampshire.

He drew a comparison with NFL side Green Bay Packers, who punch well above their weight in America.

"If we took NFL football, we can be a little bit like the sentimental favourite in the organisation, like the Green Bay Packers," the former NHL coach said.

"It is a small organisation, doesn't have all the options of the big clubs, but they won the Super Bowl."

Krueger says there is a "huge gap" between what the club is achieving commercially, and what they should be.

"I believe the potential is unlimited," he said. "This league is going worldwide. One of the areas I hope to be able to help the club in is growing outside of Southampton," he said.

"Growing the company outside of England is something I am very active about. There's the local market, there's the international market, there's the work with sponsors and partners.

"I'm really excited to get involved and support that. It's going to be one of my major focuses, to support that arm of the organisation. The sky's the limit there."

The Green Bay Packers, founded in 1919, are the third-oldest NFL franchise and the last remaining "small town team" in the league. They have won the Super Bowl four times, most recently in 2011.

Renowned for the passionate support of their diehard fans, the Packers are the only non-profit community-owned major league sports team in the United States.

Krueger, who acted as a coaching consultant for Canada's ice hockey team when they won the Sochi Winter Olympics last month, sees a lot of potential in North America for the Saints.

"The number one growing sport in America and Canada is football... not American football," Krueger told local BBC news.

"Soccer is booming and there is an opportunity there for us because the Premier League is by far the most respected league in the world.

"We have opportunity for growth so let's find opportunities to expand."