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Rupert James Graham Lowe (born 31 October 1957) is a British politician, farmer[3] and businessman, who has been the Brexit Party Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in the West Midlands constituency since the 2019 European Parliament elections.[4]

Rupert Lowe

Member of the European Parliament
for West Midlands
Assumed office
2 July 2019[1][2]
Preceded byDaniel Dalton
Personal details
Born (1957-10-31) 31 October 1957 (age 62)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
NationalityBritish
Political partyBrexit
Other political
affiliations
Referendum
EducationRadley College
Alma materUniversity of Reading

Lowe was chairman of Southampton Football Club from 1996 to 2006 and then again from 2008 to 2009, when the company was placed into administration.

Early life and careerEdit

Born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England[5] Rupert Lowe was educated at Radley College and the University of Reading before gaining a reputation working in the City of London for companies such as Morgan Grenfell and Deutsche Bank. He was also a board member of the London International Financial Futures Exchange. He founded Secure Retirements, a quoted care home provider, with Andrew Cowen, later the Southampton F.C. Vice Chairman.

Football careerEdit

Southampton Football ClubEdit

In the mid-1990s, the Saints board were looking to float the club on the London Stock Exchange, a long and costly procedure. Therefore, they attempted a reverse takeover as a way to reduce costs. They needed to find a company that had already floated and take it over while effectively being taken over themselves. Lowe's Secure Retirements, which ran nursing homes, was a perfect candidate. The resultant group was renamed Southampton Leisure Holdings PLC.[6]

After the deal was completed, Lowe became chairman of the football club. This was despite him being an avid rugby union watcher and hockey player, who had only seen his first professional football game six months previously.

Fans' groups were initially undecided about Lowe. He had vast business expertise, a vital trait for any chairman of a football club, but he also knew hardly anything about the game. Soon after the takeover, Graeme Souness and Lawrie McMenemy left the club, citing 'difficulties' with the new owners. This came as a huge shock to many fans and to the local press, who regarded McMenemy as 'Mr. Southampton'.

Lowe, however, did much to improve his image in the eyes of Saints' fans and the media. He guided the club from their old stadium into the St Mary's Stadium and the club continued to follow a long-standing policy of selling players to clubs for high prices. Dean Richards, who was sold to Tottenham Hotspur for £8 million, and Kevin Davies, who was sold to Blackburn Rovers for £7 million, are good examples. Davies was subsequently bought back by Southampton for a much smaller fee. James Beattie joined the club for £1 million from Blackburn Rovers, enjoyed great form at Southampton, and later joined Everton for £6 million.

His timing of managerial decisions were somewhat alarming and inconsistent, however, as there were eight managers during his tenure, a very high turnover rate. Dave Jones was forced out when faced with a criminal investigation, even though Jones was later exonerated of all charges. Jones' replacement, Glenn Hoddle, left to join Tottenham Hotspur in 2001. Lowe then appointed a talented coach, Stuart Gray, but Gray was swiftly replaced by Gordon Strachan after a disastrous start to the 2001–02 season.

In 2003, Saints went on to reach the FA Cup Final and qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time in nearly 20 years. In the following season they were lying fourth in the league at Christmas, but it soon emerged that Gordon Strachan was refusing to extend his contract citing "personal reasons". Lowe and the board took the decision to replace him with Paul Sturrock before the end of the season. Sturrock himself left the club by "mutual consent" within six months of being appointed, despite achieving good results during his time in charge. It is understood that Lowe attempted to interfere in team selection after consulting Rugby Union coach Sir Clive Woodward, who was being courted by the club at the time.[7]

Lowe seemingly made the same mistake as he did with Stuart Gray by employing a good coach (Steve Wigley), who seemed to lack the steely will needed for a manager of any business. Like the appointment of Gray three years earlier, Lowe appeared to be taking a huge gamble by employing another untested coach, and allegedly exploited his own influence by indulging himself more and more in team affairs, including the much documented "Delgado Affair". The appointment of Wigley also broke Premiership rules requiring all managers to have the relevant coaching qualifications. With the team's form deteriorating, Lowe sacked Wigley in November of the same year.

Wigley was replaced, to much furore, by former Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp. The appointment of an experienced manager in Redknapp led to expectations that results would improve, but they were actually worse in the second half of the season than in the first, and the club was relegated to the Championship.

With relegation, a 50% wage cut was imposed on most players and staff, after a mediocre start to the new season, Redknapp resigned as manager citing personal reasons and a wish for a break from football, but he quickly re-joined Southampton's rivals Portsmouth. George Burley was appointed as manager in December 2005, while former England rugby union coach Sir Clive Woodward, who had been brought into the club only a year beforehand, was promoted to the senior position of Director of Football. Although supporters approved of bringing in new techniques that had worked in other sports, this move was once again seen by many fans as gambling the club's status with another experiment. The club were unable to mount a push for promotion back to the Premiership.

On 30 June 2006, Lowe resigned under huge pressure from club supporters, including the newly formed Saints Trust, following the club's failure to win promotion back to the Premiership. Michael Wilde, a new investor in Southampton Leisure Holdings PLC, led a new team of directors in taking over the club.

In July 2008, Lowe returned as Southampton Leisure Holdings plc Chairman. At an AGM on 23 December 2008, Lowe received several calls to resign from former Chairman Leon Crouch and from fans and shareholders at the meeting. Also, thirty silver coins were thrown in the direction of Lowe by fan Richard Chorley, who was thrown out of the meeting. After Lowe's return, protests took place against his role at the club.[8]

On 2 April 2009, Southampton Leisure Holdings PLC was put into administration, resulting in Lowe's resignation from the board.[8]

Garforth TownEdit

In December 2012, Lowe purchased Garforth Town of the Northern Premier League, along with the franchise operation of Socatots & Brazilian Soccer Schools linking up again with Simon Clifford, who had been employed as a Southampton coach in 2005.[9]

Football powerbrokerEdit

Lowe has served as a member of the Football Association Board as a Premier League representative and as an FA Councillor.

Political careerEdit

Lowe stood for election as the Referendum Party candidate for Cotswold in the 1997 general election. He also took an active role in the successful Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum. He won a seat for the Brexit Party in the West Midlands constituency in the 2019 European Parliament elections.[4]

He had planned to be the Brexit Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Dudley North constituency of the UK Parliament.[10] However, he withdrew just before the deadline at 15:59 on 14 November 2019.[11].

Later careerEdit

In February 2018, Lowe was one of several people who received undisclosed damages payouts from Mirror Group Newspapers as part of the phone hacking scandal.[12].

Lowe was appointed a Director of Rutherford Health plc[13] in 2018 and Digme Fitness in 2017.[13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Key dates ahead". European Parliament. 20 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Key dates ahead". BBC News. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Doom-mongers must stop using farmers as a political hammer to bash Brexit". Farmers Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b "West Midlands Region - 7 MEPs". www.europarl.europa.eu. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  5. ^ "LOWE Rupert J G / HUINS" in Register of Births for Oxford Registration District, vol. 6b (1959), p. 1313
  6. ^ "Rupert the Rare". BBC. 23 August 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  7. ^ "Woodward set for top job at Saints". The Independent. 22 March 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Mark Fry and David Hudson of Begbies Traynor appointed as joint administrators to Southampton Leisure Holdings plc". Southampton F.C. 2 April 2009. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009.
  9. ^ Gree, Wendy (17 December 2012). "Rupert Lowe makes football return". Daily Echo. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  10. ^ Farrington, Dayna. "Brexit Party MEP Rupert Lowe will bid to unseat Ian Austin in future general election". www.expressandstar.com. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  11. ^ https://twitter.com/RupertLowe10/status/1195008427778596867
  12. ^ "Rupert Lowe awarded damages over phone hacking". Daily Echo. Southampton. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Rupert James Graham LOWE - Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk.