New Lowe as Walcott saga ends

Last updated : 20 January 2006 By Chris C
Weeks of painful speculation have finally reached a conclusion, with the cornerstone of Saints' academy policy sold after barely half a season in the first team.

Lowe did well under the circumstances to secure a world record £12m deal for a teenager, with £5m up front, £5m based on appearances and £2m based on playing for England. As has been widely reported, once Theo, or perhaps more accurately his advisors, decided that he should leave, they had Saints over a barrel.

We should be grateful in this shameful episode that we managed to get anything more than the standard tribunal fee. Despite all the promises of Theo being in the best place to learn the game, perhaps we should take Team Walcott at face value this time and believe that they did this to secure Saints a decent pay day for all our work in developing his talent.

In the press statement and subsequent conference, Lowe let his guard slip for once and expressed his frustration: "We are bitterly disappointed. The purpose of developing the best Academy in the country is not to sell scholars to larger clubs. We have done everything to keep Theo at Southampton but his family and advisors are determined that he leave this club and go to Arsenal. Theo has shown what he is capable of in his first season of senior football and I know every Saints fan will feel let down."

Lowe is no fool and sought to address fans concerns at the lack of inbound transfer activity: "In the meantime, his legacy will be available to George Burley to judiciously strengthen our team."

With only a Polish 18 year old keeper signed so far in the transfer window, Lowe knows he is in for a rough ride on Saturday in what should be a red hot atmosphere. The crowd will be sure to make their feelings known and even if Lowe is not to blame for this fiasco, then he remains the focal point for discontent.

Saints were believed to be stalling over the move this week in order to be able to confirm additions to the Saints squad. However, the proposed transfer of Halls fell through and other offers have yet to come to fruition and Saints fans are understandably feeling exasperated with the situation.

The fact remains that Saints will struggle to attract players to half way down the Championship, even more so now than after relegation. To do so, Lowe needs to rethink his transfer policy and actually compete financially to outbid other clubs or Theo will be just the first of many painful departures from our all-star academy.