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By ESPN Staff

I'll fight takeover plot, insists Saints chief Lowe

Under-fire Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe has vowed he will not bow to fan pressure and be forced out of the club.

Demonstrations followed Wednesday's goalless draw against Crystal Palace at the St Mary's Stadium, with angry fans calling for Lowe to quit.

The recent departure of rising star Theo Walcott, who signed for Arsenal for a fee that could rise to £12million, added fuel to the fire for the supporters.

With a three-man consortium claiming to be ready to make an offer for the Saints within the next 48 hours, Lowe would appear to be coming under fire from all angles.

'In any football club, and as chairman, it comes with the territory,' said Lowe. 'What one has to try and do is remember the fans are passionate about the club and they love the club, and I bare no malice to any of the supporters.

'I can quite understand some of their disappointment, both at results and sadly, due to a loophole in the scholarship agreements, losing Theo Walcott to Arsenal.

'But I will step down when the board says it is time for me to step down, or when I decide it is time.'

Lowe is adamant the club are 'getting stronger by the day,' and refutes suggestions it is 'about to fall apart.'

Lowe is also taking no notice of the consortium planning claiming they are set to seize control, particularly as it appears they are only prepared to offer £10million.

'When, and if, we get a serious investor, or group of investors who want to make an offer for the club, we will look at what they propose,' added Lowe, on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.

'Anybody who thinks they are going to buy a public company that is currently capitalised at £10million, is deluding themselves.'

Entrepreneur Andrew Strode-Gibbons, who heads the consortium, believes that is the figure that would see him and his partners take over.

'I, along with many people in this city, am fed up with the way the club is being run and we want to see an end to Rupert Lowe's reign,' said Strode-Gibbons, co-founder of The Mortgage Lender company.

'We are prepared to pay what the club is worth, which is between £9-10million, but they have a deluded idea that the club is worth more now in the Championship than it was in the Premiership.'

If Strode-Gibbons do take over, director of football Sir Clive Woodward would find himself out of a job.

Strode-Gibbons claims that after speaking with a number of first-team players last week, they have no respect for Woodward.

'It's very unlikely we would want to keep Sir Clive Woodward,' said Strode-Gibbons. 'I'm sure he deserves a chance, but we feel he is best served in rugby, not football.

'The way things are working out at Southampton, he doesn't seem to have the respect of the players and people within the club. That's not peaceful harmony.'

Woodward, who coached England to win the rugby World Cup in 2003, was quick to counter.

'I think I've been long enough in football and professional sport to take all these things with a pinch of salt. I'm not going to find out who these players are and why they are unhappy because I don't think they are.

'But if you want to it's not too difficult to find players to say things, especially at the moment in the January window, with players going out and coming in.'