By David Owen

Ralph Krueger coached the Swiss men's national ice hockey team from 1997 until 2010 and the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13 ©Getty ImagesMarch 12 - Southampton, one of the most upwardly mobile of English Premier League football clubs, has turned to the world of ice hockey for its new chairman.

Ralph Krueger - who returned recently from Sochi 2014, where he acted as a consultant to the Canadian men's team that claimed a second-consecutive Olympic gold medal - has been unveiled today as the replacement for Nicola Cortese.

Cortese resigned in January, triggering speculation that the club, which has won widespread praise for the attractive and energetic style of play it has implemented in climbing to ninth-place in the Premier League table, might be put up for sale.

Southampton's owner, Katharina Liebherr, said Krueger's "experience as an expert in leadership, motivation and team-building" made him "ideally suited" for the chairman's position.

"He has been a leading advisor and coach to senior management in large international corporations for the past 20 years," Liebherr said.

"In addition, he has been an active member of the World Economic Forum since 2011."

Katharina Liebherr has praised Ralph Krueger's leadership experience ©AFP/Getty ImagesKatharina Liebherr has praised Ralph Krueger's leadership experience ©AFP/Getty Images

Krueger commented on the "positive soul" throughout the club, promising to build on it by "creating platforms of open communication both inside with the staff and outside with our fan base".

Although there was "a solid foundation in place", the club, he said, still had "tremendous untapped commercial potential".

A German citizen, though Canadian-born, Krueger, 54, coached the Swiss men's national ice hockey team from 1997 until 2010, and the Edmonton Oilers National Hockey League (NHL) outfit in 2012-2013.

Krueger's playing career was in the German Bundesliga; he also played 45 times for the West German national ice hockey team.

It is not the first time that Southampton have looked to experts from other sports: rugby World Cup-winning coach, Sir Clive Woodward, was performance director from 2005-2006.

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