Non League Daily

Chester Look To Premier League For Inspiration

Chester FC this week had the unique opportunity to visit St Mary's, the home of Southampton FC to look at the model in which the club operates.

City Fans United Chairman Grenville Millington, and Director Brian Burns were invited to the south-west by Southampton CEO Gareth Rogers on Tuesday, ahead of the Blues thumping 4-0 win against Lincoln City, to discuss the Premier League sides philosophy both on and off the pitch.

The duo made the trip to the Premier League's 3rd place side after a progressive Senior Blues meeting with the FA's former head of talent identification, Mike Rigg.

At the meeting, Rigg – who has also had spells at Manchester City and QPR - discussed his thoughts on the DNA and philosophy of the FA's set up, and gave a captivating talk regarding football club's developing individual values. He reserved high praise for Southampton in particular, suggesting they were great example of developing a club DNA - both on and off the pitch.

Blues Chairman Grenville Millington was so impressed with the meeting that he made contact with Southampton, and CEO Gareth Rogers, who offered an invite for Chester FC to come and look at their set up.

The pair met Scott Giles, PA to the CEO, plus John McWilliams, Head of Operations, and Mark Abrahams, Director of Commercial and Community Partnerships at Southampton's Stadium, who gave them a guided tour of St Mary's, followed by a sit down discussion surrounding Southampton's philosophy and DNA.

On his return Chairman Grenville Millington said "The most impressive aspect of Southampton's 'DNA' is that it was created by themselves by all playing and non-playing staff. The thing that shone through was that their philosophy is now embedded in every aspect of the club's business, and it is vibrant and is clearly lived by all staff – in whichever role they are employed".

Speaking to, CFU Board Member and Director Brian Burns said, "The whole day was so captivating, exciting and exhilarating to be honest. Right from the start we were made so welcome, and we had a fantastic time discussing Southampton and Chester FC with their executives."

"They were so enthusiastic in telling us about their club, and in turn were so interested in Chester FC and fascinated by our story as a community led, fan owned club, and that we'd chosen to contact them about their DNA. It was fantastic to see that at the highest level, time was no problem for me, Grenville and Chester FC."

"The challenge for all of us at Chester FC is to emulate 'The Southampton Way' by developing our own long term philosophy of the way forward, both on and off the pitch. It will be a challenge with a major difference being Southampton FC has 300 employees whereas Chester FC has a vast number of key volunteers supporting the day to day activity and running of the club."

"We will soon begin a consultation process to develop our own DNA within the underlying principles of individual accountability, mutual respect for each other's roles and responsibilities, but above all unity in what we do to move our great little club onwards and upwards."

Unfortunately, Southampton's CEO Gareth Rogers couldn't make the meeting on Tuesday; and with both Grenville and Brian desperate to return north-west for the Vanarama Conference game with Lincoln, he made the pair an interesting proposition.

"Gareth was so apologetic that he was unavailable on the day, but would still love to meet up and has invited us back to see the Southampton philosophy implemented on a match day, which we hope to take up with him before the end of the season."

However, Blues fans hoping for a flurry of transfer activity between the sides in the latter stages of the transfer window may have to think again. Burns said; "We know that Steve Burr's been looking at strikers over recent weeks, so we were hoping to build up a relationship good enough to sign Graziano Pelle on loan, but unfortunately they told us he figures heavily in their plans at the moment!"

Having been treated to a look around St Mary's' facilities, and meeting all other key office staff, Grenville and Brian presented a Chester FC shirt to the club, and thanked Southampton for being such wonderful hosts and sharing their beliefs. Chester FC would like to wish Southampton the best in the future – and immediately in their push for Champions League football this season.



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