SAINTS have parted company with chairman Ralph Krueger.

The 59-year-old Canadian joined Saints in February 2014, a personal appointment of Katharina Liebherr, and was a figurehead at the top of the club for more than five years.

But his time at St Mary’s has been brought to an abrupt end after the club’s majority owner, Gao Jisheng, took the decision not to renew Krueger’s contract, which was due to expire at the end of the season.

After Krueger had been informed, both parties decided it was in the best interests of all involved for the former ice hockey coach to depart immediately.

The Daily Echo understands that vice-chairman Martin Semmens will step in to take control of the day-to-day running of the club and is the frontrunner to take charge on a permanent basis.

Daily Echo: Martin Semmens (right) with former vice-chairman Les Reed and director of scouting and recruitment Ross WilsonMartin Semmens (right) with former vice-chairman Les Reed and director of scouting and recruitment Ross Wilson

Krueger’s departure is part of a wider restructuring programme currently being undertaken at Saints.

The club have yet to appoint a successor to Les Reed in a director of football role, and exactly what direction that will take remains to be seen with Krueger having been involved in that process.

Daily Echo:

(Ralph Krueger with Katharina Liebherr)

Krueger’s time at Saints has seen the club steady themselves as a Premier League outfit before qualifying for the Europa League and, more recently, struggling nearer the bottom of the table.

He has enabled others to take the day-to-day decisions while he has described himself as the representative of the ownership and set the overall tone and direction of travel.

Krueger certainly delivered for Liebherr, taking charge after the departure of Nicola Cortese and guiding them towards a point where Gao Jisheng paid £210m for 80 per cent of the club.

The accounts during his time in charge have shown a healthy business with all profits reinvested.

However, Krueger was very much Liebherr’s appointment and, though Mr Gao initially opted for continuity, it seems he wanted a change.

What likely counted against Krueger was that he was a figurehead chairman and not somebody who was at the club every day in a hands-on capacity.

Krueger has recently spoken about the possibility of returning to the world of ice hockey where he was an international player and an NHL coach.