Saints have been crowned joint winners of the Barclays Premier League Grounds Team of the Season award.
The Club’s ground staff will share the accolade with Arsenal, with the award’s organisers deciding that there was little to separate the quality of the pitch here at St Mary’s from that of the surface at the Emirates Stadium.
The joint winners saw off competition from grounds teams at Aston Villa, Cardiff City and 2012/13 victors Swansea City to come out on top of the five-club shortlist that had been compiled earlier this year.
The work of Grounds Manager Andy Gray and his team has been in the spotlight over the past week after he revealed an eye-catching design for last weekend’s visit of Everton.
The playing surface attracted plenty of attention during the game, which was broadcast live on BT Sport, as images went viral on social media.
The St Mary's pitch ahead of last weekend's game against Everton
Just yesterday, the Club tweeted an image of the grounds team’s latest pitch design as anticipation builds for the final home game of the season, against Manchester United next Sunday.
The Grounds Team of the Season award is run by the Playing Surfaces Committee in conjunction with The Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), and recognises the importance of pitches in professional football.
The awards were previously given to the head groundsmen of clubs but this season it was decided that the terminology should change to reflect the growing number of people involved in preparing the playing surface.
The scoring system for Grounds Team of the Year is based on marks for specific aspects of pitch and management performance. It is compiled using marks from referees and match delegates.
There is also a pitch assessment visit by the STRI and an assessment of each clubs’ management of the pitch as well as factoring in other elements such as environmental issues, shade and resources available to the club.
The STRI noted that the “pitches of the Premier League clubs were all to an exceptionally high standard”, with Southampton’s in particular receiving very high marks from referees and match delegates.
The grounds teams will receive their trophies and prize money from Barclays, title sponsors of the Barclays Premier League, later this year.