Monday, April 17, 2017


It`s not often that I get interested in mergers, acquisitions and takeovers but the last few days have seen two lots of good news for people, like me, with concerns about affairs in and around Southampton.

First the good news about the Hythe Ferry. I grew up in Hythe on the western shore of Southampton Water and the ferry from Hythe to Southampton`s Town Quay was part of the permanent fixtures of my happy childhood.  I used to be taken on the ferry by my mother when she needed to go shopping and by my father to go to The Dell to watch Southampton - the Saints - playing in the old Second Division.  

For some years the ferry operation has been under threat as a result of falling passenger numbers and increased running costs and has only been kept going with subsidies from Hampshire County Council, who see it as a vital part of the transport links between the city and the Waterside.  More recently the prospect of the ferry having to close has become more acute but the good news is that both the ferry and the unique pier from which it operates are to be taken over by Blue Funnel , a long established and vastly experienced company operating from Southampton.   As a ferry has operated between Hythe and Southampton since at least 1575, when it was shown on Saxton`s map of the area, the news that its future is now secure is good news indeed.

The second bit of good news is that the Chinese Investment Group, Lander Sports, have now confirmed to the Stock Exchange that their interest in acquiring a stake in Southampton Football Club has now been abandoned.  For over a year now, they have been in discussion with representatives of the Saints` current owner, Katharina Liebherr and have had a lengthy period of exclusivity as the discussions have taken place.  

For Saints fans like me, this is also good news, as the current ownership has proved to be both benevolent and efficient and has seen the club rise from the depths of the third tier of English football into an established place in the Premier League.   It might be a case of `better the devil you know` but, as a former shareholder, the prospect of the club changing hands and leaping once more into the unknown was not a happy one for me.

All`s well that ends well?

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