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Southampton sack vice-chairman Les Reed as pressure builds on Mark Hughes

The Guardian logo The Guardian 5 days ago David Hytner
a man wearing a suit and tie: Les Reed joined Southampton in 2010 but has been sacked by the club’s owners, who are seeking a change of direction. © Southampton FC via Getty Images Les Reed joined Southampton in 2010 but has been sacked by the club’s owners, who are seeking a change of direction.

Southampton are committed to a major restructuring at the top of the club after the decision to sack the vice-chairman, Les Reed, and the technical director, Martin Hunter, on Thursday.

The club’s Chinese owner, Gao Jisheng and his family, who took control in the summer of last year, have had two representatives working on site every day in order to oversee their investment. With the team in poor form in 16th place in the Premier League, expensive mistakes having been made in the transfer market and a slow-down in the production line from the academy, they felt a change of direction was needed.

Related: Sterling hits two as Manchester City thrash Southampton to go top again

The shake-up makes Mark Hughes more vulnerable. He signed a new three-year contract as manager at the end of last season, having arrived in March to steer the club to Premier League safety. He has taken charge of 19 league games, winning three. Goals have been the biggest problem for his team. They have scored only 15 in the league under him.

Reed joined Southampton in 2010, when the club was in League One and together with the then chairman, Nicola Cortese, he helped to reshape them. They moved up the divisions to establish themselves as a respected top-flight organisation.

Hunter moved to the club shortly after Reed – the pair are close confidants – and he held a variety of roles, the most recent of which effectively put him in overall charge of coaching from under-23 level and down.

The club said in a statement that it was time to “take constructive action and provide new drive and direction to our football operations team”, promising to “search for the right replacement” for Reed. Ross Wilson, the highly regarded head of recruitment, is expected to take a prominent role.

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