Southampton F.C.

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Southampton F.C.
FC Southampton.svg
Full nameSouthampton Football Club
Nickname(s)The Saints
Founded21 November 1885; 129 years ago (1885-11-21) as St. Mary's YMA
GroundSt Mary's Stadium
Ground Capacity32,505[1]
OwnerKatharina Liebherr
ChairmanRalph Krueger[2]
ManagerRonald Koeman[3]
LeaguePremier League
2013–14Premier League, 8th
WebsiteClub home page
Current season
 
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Southampton F.C.
FC Southampton.svg
Full nameSouthampton Football Club
Nickname(s)The Saints
Founded21 November 1885; 129 years ago (1885-11-21) as St. Mary's YMA
GroundSt Mary's Stadium
Ground Capacity32,505[1]
OwnerKatharina Liebherr
ChairmanRalph Krueger[2]
ManagerRonald Koeman[3]
LeaguePremier League
2013–14Premier League, 8th
WebsiteClub home page
Current season

Southampton Football Club Listeni/sθˈæmptən, -hæmptən/ is an English football club, nicknamed The Saints, based in the city of Southampton, Hampshire, who compete in the Premier League.

The Saints' home ground since 2001 has been St Mary's Stadium, before which they were based at The Dell. The club has been nicknamed "The Saints" since its inception in 1885 due to its history as a church football team, founded as St Mary's Church of England Young Men's Association (or St Mary's Y.M.A) and has since generally played in red and white shirts.

The club has a long-standing rivalry with Portsmouth due to its close proximity and both cities' respective maritime history. Matches between the two sides are known as the South Coast Derby.

The club has won the FA Cup once in 1976, and their highest-ever league finish was second in the First Division in 1983–84.[4] Southampton were relegated from the Premier League on 15 May 2005 ending 27 successive seasons of top-division football for the club.[5] The club eventually returned to the Premier League after a 7-year absence and have been playing there since the 2012–13 season.

History[edit]

Chart of yearly table positions of Southampton in the Football League.

Foundation and Southern League[edit]

In 2001 the move from The Dell to the new Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium was a homecoming for Southampton F.C., because of the new stadium's proximity to St Mary's, the church where the club was founded on 21 November 1885 by members of the St Mary's Church of England Young Men's Association.

St Mary's Y.M.A., as they were usually referred to in the local press, played most of their early games on The Common where games were frequently interrupted by pedestrians insistent on exercising their right to roam. More important matches, such as cup games, were played either at the County Cricket Ground in Northlands Road or the Antelope Cricket Ground in St Mary's Road.

The club was originally known as St. Mary's Young Men's Association F.C. (usually abbreviated to "St. Mary's Y.M.A.") and then became simply St. Mary's F.C. in 1887–88, before adopting the name Southampton St. Mary's when the club joined the Southern League in 1894. After winning the Southern League title in 1896–97, the club became a limited company and was renamed Southampton F.C.

Southampton won the Southern League championship for three years running between 1897 and 1899 and again in 1901, 1903 and 1904.

That success spanned some major changes for the Saints as they moved to a newly built £10,000 stadium called The Dell, to the North-West of the city centre in 1898. Although they would spend the next 103 years there, the future was far from certain in those early days and the club had to rent the premises first before they could stump up the cash to buy the stadium in the early part of the 20th century.

Good omens were quick to arrive though and before the 19th century was out the South Coast was given a taste of things to come as they reached the first of their four FA Cup Finals in 1900. On that day they went down 4–0 to Bury and two years later they would suffer a similar fate at the hands of Sheffield United as they were beaten 2–1 in a replay of the 1902 final, but it had given the club a thirst for the big occasion—albeit one that would not be truly satisfied for over seven decades.

Joining the Football League[edit]

After the First World War, when many teams were broken up by the call of National Service, Saints joined the newly formed Football League Third Division in 1920 which split into South and North sections a year later. The 1921–22 season ended in triumph with promotion and marked the beginning of a 31-year stay in Second Division.

The 1922–23 season was a unique "Even Season" – 14 wins, 14 draws, 14 defeats for a total of 42 points, or one point per game. Goals For and Against were also equal and the team finished in mid-table.

In 1925 and 1927, they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing 2–0 and 2–1 to Sheffield United and Arsenal respectively.

Saints were briefly forced to switch home matches to the ground of their local rivals Portsmouth F.C. at Fratton Park during the Second World War when a bomb landed on The Dell pitch in November 1940, leaving an 18-foot crater which damaged an underground culvert and flooded the pitch.

Post-war years[edit]

Promotion was narrowly missed in 1947–48 when they finished in third place, a feat repeated the following season (despite having an eight point lead with eight games to play) whilst in 1949–50 they were to be denied promotion by 0.06 of a goal, missing out on second place to Sheffield United. In the 1948–49 and 1949–50 seasons, Charlie Wayman rattled in a total of 56 goals. Then relegation in 1953 sent Saints sliding back into Division 3 (South).

It took until 1960 for Saints to regain Second Division status with Derek Reeves plundering 39 of the champions’ 106 league goals. On 27 April 1963 a crowd of 68,000 at Villa Park saw them lose 1–0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final.

Reaching the First Division[edit]

The dream of First Division football at The Dell for the first time was finally realised in 1966 when Ted Bates’ team were promoted as runners-up, with Martin Chivers scoring 30 of Saints' 85 league goals. Promotion was a never-to-be-forgotten achievement.

For the following campaign Ron Davies arrived to score 43 goals in his first season as Saints scored 74 league goals, conceding 92. Saints stayed among the elite for eight years, with the highest finishing position being seventh place in 1968–69 and again in 1970–71. These finishes were high enough for them to qualify for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969–70 (going out in Round 3 to Newcastle United) and its successor, the UEFA Cup in 1971–72, when they went out in the First Round to Athletic Bilbao.

In December 1973, long term manager Ted Bates stood down to be replaced by Lawrie McMenemy who was unable to prevent The Saints becoming the first victims of the new 3-down relegation system in 1974 when they were relegated, along with Manchester United and Norwich City.

Cup glory[edit]

Under Lawrie McMenemy's management, Saints started to rebuild in the Second Division, capturing players such as Peter Osgood, Jim McCalliog, Jim Steele and Peter Rodrigues (captain) and what many people feel was the team's greatest moment (to date) came in 1976, when they reached the FA Cup Final, playing Manchester United at Wembley, and surprised all observers by beating much-fancied United 1–0 thanks to a goal from Bobby Stokes. Southampton had finally broken their major honours duck and finally laid to rest memories of defeats in the 1900 FA Cup Final against Bury and more agonisingly the 1902 FA Cup Final against Sheffield United.

The following season, they played in Europe again in the Cup Winners' Cup, reaching Round 3 where they lost 2–3 on aggregate to Anderlecht.

Return to First Division[edit]

In 1977–78, captained by Alan Ball, Saints finished runners-up in the Second Division (behind Bolton Wanderers) and returned to the First Division. They finished comfortably in 14th place in their first season back in the top flight. The following season they returned to Wembley in the final of the League Cup where they acquitted themselves well, losing 3–2 to Nottingham Forest.

In 1980, McMenemy made his biggest signing, capturing the European Footballer of the Year Kevin Keegan. Although Keegan's Southampton career only lasted two years, Saints fielded an attractive side also containing Alan Ball, prolific goal-scorer Ted MacDougall, (who still holds the record for the largest number of goals in an FA Cup game – nine – for Bournemouth against Margate in an 11–0 win), MacDougall's strike partner at Bournemouth and Norwich Phil Boyer, club stalwart Mick Channon and Charlie George and in 1980–81 they scored 76 goals, finishing in sixth place, then their highest league finish. The following season, Kevin Keegan helped lift the club to the top of the First Division. Southampton led the league for over two months, taking top spot on 30 January 1982 and staying there (apart from one week) until 3 April 1982. But in a disappointing end to the season, in which Keegan was hampered by a back injury, Southampton won only two of their last nine games and finished seventh. Keegan scored 26 of Southampton's 72 goals that season.

Southampton continued to progress under McMenemy's stewardship, and with a team containing Peter Shilton, Nick Holmes, David Armstrong, top-scorer Steve Moran and Danny Wallace reached their highest ever league finish as runners-up in 1983–84[4] (three points behind the champions Liverpool) as well as reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup losing 1–0 to Everton at Highbury Stadium.

They finished fifth the following year, but as a result of the Heysel Disaster all English clubs were banned from European competition: had it not been for this, then Southampton would have again qualified for the UEFA Cup.

After McMenemy[edit]

Lawrie McMenemy left at the end of the 1984–85 season to be succeeded by Chris Nicholl, who was sacked after six years in charge despite preserving the club's top flight status. He was replaced by Ian Branfoot, who until the end of the 1990–91 season had been assistant manager to Steve Coppell at Crystal Palace. By this stage a key player in the Southampton line-up was Guernsey-born attacking midfielder/striker Matthew Le Tissier, the best-loved player in Saints' recent history. He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1990 and later made eight appearances for the England team – he finally retired in 2002 at the age of 33.

Southampton in the Premier League 1992–2005[edit]

Southampton were founding members of the Premier League in 1992–93, having played in the top flight of English football since 1978.

Ian Branfoot was sacked in January 1994 with Southampton battling relegation. He was replaced by Exeter City manager Alan Ball. Ball secured the Saints' survival for the 1993–94 season and guided them to a tenth-place finish in the Premiership in 1994–95, with performances from Matthew Le Tissier. But amidst rumours of lack of support from the Board, Ball was lured to Manchester City in the summer of 1995 and Southampton turned to long-serving coach David Merrington to take charge of the team in 1995–96. Southampton finished 17th with 38 league points, avoiding relegation on goal difference. Two important wins during the final weeks of the season did much to ensure that Saints and not Manchester City would achieve Premiership survival. First came a 3–1 home win over eventual double winners Manchester United, then came a 1–0 away win over relegated Bolton Wanderers. Merrington was dismissed a few days after the end of the season and replaced by former Liverpool and Rangers manager Graeme Souness.

Southampton fared little better in 1996–97 despite the arrival of Souness, whose track record included three Scottish league titles with Rangers and an FA Cup victory with Liverpool. Souness brought in quality foreign players with Egil Østenstad and Eyal Berkovic. The highlight of the season was a 6–3 win over Manchester United at The Dell in October, when both his signings scored twice. However, he had to deal with criticism over the Ali Dia debacle. He resigned after just one season in charge following a dispute over transfer funds, after he had overseen Southampton's 16th place finish in the Premiership. Southampton's directors turned to Dave Jones who had won promotion to Division One with Stockport County as well as reaching the League Cup semi finals.

Southampton were tipped by many observers to be relegated from the Premiership in 1997–98, but they finished in eleventh place in the table and managed a home win over Manchester United for the third consecutive season. Their form seriously dipped in 1998–99 as they were rooted to the bottom of the table for much of the first half of the season, but they again avoided relegation on the last day of the season after a late run of good results, helped by the intervention of Latvian Marian Pahars and old hero Le Tissier (The so-called "Great Escape"). In 1999, Southampton were given the go-ahead to build a new 32,000-seat stadium in the St Mary's area of the city, after playing in the Dell since 1898.

During the 1999–00 season, Dave Jones quit as Southampton manager to concentrate on a court case after he was accused of abusing children at the children's home where he had worked during the 1980s. The accusations were later proved to be groundless but it was too late to save Jones' career as Southampton manager and he was succeeded by ex-England team manager Glenn Hoddle.

Glenn Hoddle helped keep Southampton well clear of the Premiership drop zone but having received an offer he moved to Tottenham Hotspur just before the end of the 2000–01 season. He was replaced by first-team coach Stuart Gray, who oversaw the relocation to the St Mary's Stadium for the 2001–02 season. At the end of the 2000–01 season, in the last competitive match at The Dell, Matthew Le Tissier came on late to score the last ever league goal at the old stadium with a half volley on the turn. Southampton finished the match 3–2 against Arsenal, providing a fairy-tale ending to the days at The Dell. Gray was sacked after a poor start to the following season, and he was replaced by ex-Coventry manager Gordon Strachan.

Strachan did much to revitalise Southampton during the 2001–02 season, and they finished in a secure eleventh place in the final table. They did even better in 2002–03, finishing eighth in the Premiership and coming runners-up in the FA Cup to Arsenal (after losing 1–0 at the Millennium Stadium), thanks in no small part to the metamorphosis of James Beattie, who fired home 24 goals, 23 in the league. Consistency followed in the next season, as a side led in attack by Beattie and Kevin Phillips secured twelfth place and yet again defeated Manchester United on their own soil.

Strachan resigned in March 2004 (to take a break from football) and was replaced by Paul Sturrock, who had been in the process of guiding Plymouth Argyle to their second promotion in three seasons. However, rumours of player dissatisfaction and personal problems dogged Sturrock, and he was replaced just five months later by reserve team coach Steve Wigley. Wigley's tenure proved disastrous, with Southampton slipping further and further down the Premiership table during 2004–05. Frenchman Christian Damiano was brought in to assist, but after a run of only one win in 14 games, both men's contracts were terminated.

Chairman Rupert Lowe risked the ire of Saints fans when he appointed Harry Redknapp as manager on 8 December 2004.[6] The news shocked much of the football world, as Redknapp had resigned as manager of Saints' arch-rivals Portsmouth just days previously. He brought in a number of new signings, including his own son Jamie Redknapp in the attempt to survive relegation. However, Redknapp's efforts were all in vain as West Bromwich Albion secured survival at Southampton's expense. Having survived for many years on a budget a fraction of most of their Premiership rivals, Southampton were relegated from the Premier League on 15 May 2005, ending 27 successive seasons of top division football for the club.[5]

Lowe and Southampton continued to make headlines after former England Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward joined the club—eventually being appointed Technical Director.[7]

Relegated after 27 years[edit]

Saints made a disappointing start to life back in the second tier of English football, with the emergence of young star Theo Walcott as a rare cause for optimism.

On 24 November 2005, Portsmouth manager Alain Perrin, the man who himself replaced Harry Redknapp at Southampton's arch-rivals, was sacked by chairman Milan Mandaric. Rumours gradually grew apace that Mandaric and Redknapp had resolved the dispute that caused Redknapp to walk out in the first place, and that he was poised to rejoin his former club.

With these rumours seemingly reaching breaking point in the media—not to mention the bookmakers—Redknapp walked out on Southampton on 3 December 2005. The two rival clubs found themselves at loggerheads over legal compensation, which threatened to leave Redknapp in limbo, but with the dispute eventually resolved, Redknapp rejoined Portsmouth on 7 December 2005. After three matches under caretaker manager Dave Bassett and assistant Dennis Wise, George Burley was unveiled as the club's new head coach on 23 December to work alongside Clive Woodward, who was promoted from Performance Director to Director of Football.

In the wake of overwhelming calls for him to stand down, Lowe eventually resigned on 30 June 2006, a few days before an Extraordinary General Meeting that was predicted to see him removed from the club's board. He was replaced as Chairman by Jersey-based businessman Michael Wilde who had become the club's major shareholder.

During the 2006–07 season, the board set about trying to secure new investment in the club. However, on 26 February 2007, it was announced that Michael Wilde would step down as chairman of the football club on 28 February. On 2 March, it was announced that Leon Crouch would take the role of "acting Chairman" until the end of that season, when the Board would reassess the situation. Crouch was reportedly fired on 21 July 2007.

In April 2007, it was rumoured that Paul Allen, the American entrepreneur who formed Microsoft with Bill Gates, might launch a takeover bid for the club. These rumours were later confirmed when the club announced that Allen had made a preliminary offer[8] although Allen subsequently denied any such interest.[9]

On 22 October 2007, it was announced the club's p.l.c. board had received a takeover bid from an unknown investor which would purchase 55% of the shares in the company. Two days later, a London-based hedge fund, SISU Capital, was named as the potential new owner.[10] The self-described "special situations investment fund management company"[11] has previously attempted to gain control of Derby County and Manchester City; former footballer Ray Ranson was involved with both bids, and SISU intended to nominate him for a place on the Southampton board.[12] However, on 14 December it was confirmed that SISU had completed a takeover of Coventry City, effectively ending their interest in Southampton.

The day before a proposed EGM to reinstate Lowe along with Wilde was to take place, the remaining board room members bar David Jones resigned, allowing Lowe and Wilde to return; Wilde as Chairman of Southampton Football Club and Rupert Lowe as Chairman of Southampton Leisure Holdings p.l.c.

In the Championship[edit]

At one point during the 2005–06 season, Southampton were in real danger of a second successive relegation. But their form improved during the final weeks of the season and they finished a secure twelfth.

Southampton players form a huddle before kicking off against Derby in 2007

The good form which secured Southampton's Championship status in 2005–06 was carried through to the start of the 2006–07 season, and the turn of the year saw the team in fourth place in the table. The new board of directors had spent a club record £6 million on transfers. Polish strikers Grzegorz Rasiak and Marek Saganowski and 17 year-old left back Gareth Bale all had great runs in form. A drastic loss in the team's form overall, coupled with poor displays against fellow promotion hopefuls, saw the team drop to eighth place by mid–March 2007, and rapidly losing touch with the promotion race. However, with other promotion rivals dropping points and a small run of form in late April, Southampton were able to reach sixth place, the last play-off position. They lost the home leg of their playoff semi-final to Derby County, and on 15 May achieved parity on aggregate but lost on penalties in a thrilling encounter.

Since relegation, the club had to sell players to meet the shortfall in income. A number of players from the club's academy have been sold for large sums, such as Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale.

The 2007–08 season went much worse for Southampton with George Burley revealing that players such as Gareth Bale and Kenwyne Jones had to be sold to stop the club going into administration and that not getting promoted put the club in serious financial troubles. New players such as Youssef Safri and Stern John were brought in, but Southampton made an inconsistent start to the season being lodged in mid-table around the Christmas period. However, manager Burley left the club in January to take over as Scotland manager and in the January transfer window two more important players in Grzegorz Rasiak and Rudi Skacel were loaned out. Jason Dodd and John Gorman took charge initially for what was intended to be the rest of the season. However, they failed to win a league game, and the team slipped alarmingly near to the relegation zone. In February Southampton appointed Nigel Pearson as manager. Under Pearson's management Southampton narrowly avoided the drop by beating Sheffield United 3–2 on the final day of the season.

Even though Pearson kept the Saints up, the Southampton board did not renew his contract, because of financial constraints. By now, Michael Wilde and Rupert Lowe had replaced Leon Crouch as chairmen, and the new board brought in the relatively unknown Dutchman Jan Poortvliet as manager. The Club's financial troubles continued to mount, resulting in more players being sold or loaned out to lower the wage bill and parts of St Mary's were closed off to reduce costs. Due to their financial troubles, the club had to rely on youth and put out a very young side. Although they had a poor first half to the season, young players such as Andrew Surman, Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin emerged as potential stars.

On 23 January 2009, Poortvliet resigned with the club one from bottom in the Championship, with Mark Wotte taking over managerial duties.[13][14][15]

Administration and relegation to League One[edit]

On 23 April 2009, Southampton were handed a 10 point deduction, following their parent company going into administration. This deduction ensured that Southampton were relegated from the Football League Championship and played the 2009–10 season in League One.[16] Although the rules of the Football League state that a 10 point deduction would only be incurred if the club went into administration, an enquiry reported that the finances of the parent company and the club were linked to an extent that they were practically the same company/club. However the administrators and the club lawyers believed that the sanction given was unfair and "completely against the rules."

After failure to beat Burnley in the penultimate game of the season on 25 April 2009, which ended in a 2–2 draw, Southampton confirmed their relegation from the Championship to League One. This also meant that they started in the third tier of English football for the first time in 50 years with minus 10 points, within six years of being FA Cup runners-up, UEFA Cup participants and the eighth placed team in the Premier League.[17]

By the end of May 2009, the club was unable to meet its staff wages commitments, and asked employees to work unpaid as a gesture of goodwill. Despite his statement opposing the sanctions a month earlier, administrator Mark Fry warned that the club now faced imminent bankruptcy unless a buyer was found.[18] The following day, the Matt Le Tissier backed Pinnacle consortium paid a non-refundable fee of £500,000 to gain "exclusivity" for 21 days, which meant that the employees at the club could be paid.[19] That period of exclusivity lapsed on 19 June without a deal being completed as the Football League refused to give the necessary approval of the proposed take-over unless Pinnacle waived any right to appeal against the ten-point deduction. The decision was confirmed by a meeting of the Football League Board on 21 June[20]

On 26 June 2009, administrator Mark Fry made a statement in which he said he had negotiations with two other groups of investors. He also confirmed that no group had an exclusivity deal and potential buyers will have to move straight away to purchase the club.[21] This was followed by a statement from the Pinnacle group that they would accept the ten point penalty enforced by the Football League in order that the takeover of the club may be completed.

On 30 June 2009 it was reported that the Matt Le Tissier-backed Pinnacle Consortium had withdrawn their offer for the club. They "up-turned tables" after a mystery overseas consortium announced that they were close to a deal after lawyers were in negotiations for the club.

The Liebherr era[edit]

On 8 July 2009, the administrators confirmed that the club had been sold to a buyer "owned and controlled by Markus Liebherr".[22] On 9 July 2009, Mark Wotte was sacked as Head Coach with Stewart Henderson taking temporary charge. The club confirmed that the search for the new manager had already begun. They said in a statement that the decision is part of a wider strategic plan being implemented to improve all aspects of the club's operations, both on and off the field.

On 17 July 2009, the club confirmed the appointment of Alan Pardew as the new First Team Manager.[23] On the opening day of the season Saints forced a 1–1 draw against Millwall, with Matthew Paterson netting the club's first goal in League One. Following this, the Saints made their first big signing under Markus Liebherr as they unveiled new striker Rickie Lambert who was purchased on 10 August 2009, for an initial £800,000, which could rise to £1m subject to appearances, from fellow League One side Bristol Rovers.[24]

Markus Liebherr also brought in Italian businessman Nicola Cortese to look after the club's business interests on his behalf.

As well as Rickie Lambert, Pardew was given the funds to complete a string of other signings to rebuild the squad including: Dean Hammond [undisclosed], Radhi Jaïdi [free], Graeme Murty [free], Dan Harding [free], David Connolly [free], Michail Antonio [loan], Papa Waigo [loan], Lee Barnard [undisclosed], José Fonte [£1.2M], Danny Seaborne [undisclosed], Jon Otsemobor [free] and Jason Puncheon, meaning that by the end of the January transfer window, Southampton had spent over £3 million on players, a significantly larger amount than any other League One club.[citation needed]

On 28 March 2010, Southampton won their first trophy since 1976 when they defeated Carlisle United 4–1 at Wembley, to claim the Football League Trophy.[25]

Southampton finished the 2009–10 season in 7th place, 7 points from the last play-off position in League One.

In celebration of the club's 125th anniversary a new home shirt was unveiled on 10 June 2010. The design was based on the original St. Mary's YMA kit used in 1885 and featured the new anniversary crest as well being without a sponsor's logo.[26] The away kit was released a short time later. This kit had a black shirt, black shorts (both with red trim) and red socks (with black trim). As with the home kit the away kit contained no main shirt sponsor and new crest.

It was announced on 11 August 2010 that Markus Liebherr had died; however the club's future had been assured and planned for before Liebherr's death.[27] [28] On 30 August 2010, Alan Pardew was sacked as first team manager. Dean Wilkins was installed as caretaker manager for a three game period while the club started its search for a new manager. On 12 September, Nigel Adkins was announced as the new Southampton manager, joining from Scunthorpe United on a three-year deal along with his assistant Andy Crosby.[29] The two had a positive impact early on as they guided Southampton into the League One Play-Off positions for the first time after a 4–0 win over Dagenham & Redbridge at St Mary's on 2 November 2010 going on to enter the top two on New Year's Day 2011 after a 4–0 win at home to Exeter City. The great start to the year continued as they knocked out Premier League Blackpool with a 2–0 win in the third round of the FA Cup. Three days later they achieved a remarkable 6–0 away win at Oldham Athletic and in the process securing a fifth straight victory.

On 17 March 2011, it was announced that Southampton based business and IT solutions provider aap³ had signed a three-year deal to become the club's headline sponsor.[30]

On 2 May 2011, Southampton effectively achieved promotion to the Championship after a 3–1 win at Plymouth Argyle, which was confirmed on 7 May with a 3–1 victory over Walsall.

Return to the Championship[edit]

On return to the Championship, Southampton made a strong start to the season, winning their first four league games for the first time in their history (this also established a club record to 10 consecutive league victories following a successful spell at the end of the previous League One season). Southampton soon secured their best start to a season for 75 years when they beat Nottingham Forest 3–2 at home, then beat Birmingham 4–1 at home to go top of the league and extend their winning run at St Mary's to 13 league games, creating a new club record.

On Friday 13 April, Southampton lost 3–1 at home to fellow-challengers for promotion Reading in a match which effectively decided the Championship title. This was the Saints' first home defeat in the league since mid-January. The team however confirmed promotion to the Premier league with a 4–0 defeat of relegated Coventry, with goals from Lallana, Sharp, Hooiveld, and Jose Fonte. The game set a record attendance at the St Mary's Stadium, of 32,363 fans.

Rickie Lambert finished the season as the Championship's top goalscorer with 27 league goals, his third 'Golden Boot' in four seasons. He also won the Championship Player of the Year award for 2011–12.

Return to the Premier League[edit]

On 10 June 2012, the official club website announced the completion of the £7 million signing of Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez, who became Southampton's first signing upon their top flight return. This also broke the club's record transfer fee spent on a single player, previously £4 million for Rory Delap, who transferred from Derby County in 2001. This record was then broken by the £12 million signing of Uruguayan forward Gastón Ramírez from Bologna on transfer deadline day, one of a clutch of eight new signings for the team before the window closed.

The Saints' first season in the top flight since relegation in 2005 started at The Etihad. The opening fixtures did not go well as Southampton conceded 24 goals in their first eight games and picked up just 4 points.

Southampton's form did however improve as the season progressed, with a 2–2 draw away at Chelsea on 16 January 2013, pulling the side to 15th and three points clear of the relegation zone. Saints had fought from 2–0 down with goals from Lambert and Puncheon securing a point. Two days after that draw, Nigel Adkins was sacked amid controversy to be immediately replaced by Argentinian coach Mauricio Pochettino.[31][32]

After Pochettino's arrival, Southampton recorded some impressive results, with 3–1 home wins against the previous season's champions Manchester City, and recorded another 3–1 win against Liverpool. Southampton soon followed suit against the 2010 champions Chelsea, securing a 2–1 win. On 14 May 2013, Southampton confirmed their safety in the Premier League for the following season. Southampton finished the season in 14th place, four places above the relegation zone, on 41 points.

On 11 July 2013, in preparation for next season, the club's transfer fee record was again broken with the purchase of Victor Wanyama from Celtic for a reported fee of £12.5 million.[33] A month later, on 18 August 2013, the club's transfer fee record was broken a fourth time in two years with the purchase of Daniel Osvaldo from Roma for a reported fee of £15 million, reuniting manager Pochettino with the player from their days at Espanyol.[34] The Saints also signed Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren from Lyon for a fee reported to be in the region of £8.5 million.

The Saints won their first game 1–0 away at West Brom, and picked up a further 8 points from their following 5 games, including a historic victory away at Liverpool. The Saints ran out 1–0 winners at Anfield with a goal from Dejan Lovren. A 2–0 home victory against Crystal Palace on 28 September lifted Southampton to 4th in the Premier League table. Following the win against Crystal Palace, Southampton went undefeated for five consecutive league fixtures, after victories against Swansea City and Fulham, along with drawing against Manchester United.

Southampton showed resilience towards the end of the season, and after a win at home to Everton and a draw against Manchester United on the final day, Southampton ended their season in their highest Premier League finish, finishing 8th, on 56 points.

Koeman (front left) as manager

Pochettino departed the club in the close season for Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur, along with his coaching staff (Perez, D'Agostino and Jimenez). The club subsequently appointed Ronald Koeman as his replacement on 16 June 2014, signing a three-year deal. The former Feyenoord boss was joined by his brother Erwin as assistant manager.

At the end of the 2013–14 season, Southampton released six players, including Brazilian midfielder Guly do Prado,[35] and also made a number of high-profile sales – striker Rickie Lambert, captain Adam Lallana, and defender Dejan Lovren joined Liverpool for estimated fees of £4 million, £25 million, and £20 million respectively,[36][37][38] left-back Luke Shaw moved to Manchester United for a club record fee in the region of £27 million,[39] and right-back Calum Chambers joined Arsenal for approximately £16 million.[40]

On 8 July 2014, the Saints made their first signing of the season in Serbian midfielder Dušan Tadić, who joined for a reported £10.9 million from Dutch side Twente.[41] Tadić was followed by Italian striker Graziano Pellè, who signed from Feyenoord on 12 July.[42] At the end of July, Southampton signed Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand on a season-long loan (with an option to buy for £10 million at the end of the season). In August, Southampton signed Fraser Forster for £10 million from Celtic. Southampton added Romania international and former Steaua Bucharest defender Florin Gardos (£6 million) as well as Irish striker Shane Long from Hull City for £12 million.

Southampton completed their early season transfer activities with the late captures of Senagalese winger Sadio Mane from Red Bull Salzburg for £10m and Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld on a season-long loan from Atlético Madrid. Both of the latter two signings were completed in the final hours of the September 2014 transfer window.

By the close of the transfer window, Southampton was one of only three Premier League sides to have finished its transfer dealings with a net positive balance – to the tune of in excess of £30 million.

Players[edit]

First team squad[edit]

As of 2 September 2014.[43][44]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No.PositionPlayer
1EnglandGKKelvin Davis (club captain)
2EnglandDFNathaniel Clyne
3JapanDFMaya Yoshida
4FranceMFMorgan Schneiderlin
5RomaniaDFFlorin Gardoș
6PortugalDFJosé Fonte (team captain)
7Republic of IrelandFWShane Long
8Northern IrelandMFSteven Davis
9EnglandFWJay Rodriguez
10SenegalFWSadio Mané
11SerbiaMFDušan Tadić
12KenyaMFVictor Wanyama
16EnglandMFJames Ward-Prowse
No.PositionPlayer
17BelgiumDFToby Alderweireld (on loan from Atlético Madrid)
18EnglandMFJack Cork
19ItalyFWGraziano Pellè
21EnglandDFRyan Bertrand (on loan from Chelsea)
23EnglandGKFraser Forster
24ZambiaFWEmmanuel Mayuka
25ArgentinaGKPaulo Gazzaniga
27WalesMFLloyd Isgrove
28EnglandMFHarrison Reed
33EnglandDFMatt Targett
38EnglandMFSam McQueen
40EnglandFWSam Gallagher
41United StatesGKCody Cropper

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No.PositionPlayer
PolandGKArtur Boruc (on loan at Bournemouth until January 2015)
NetherlandsDFJos Hooiveld (on loan at Norwich City until the end of the season)[45]
EnglandDFJack Stephens (on loan at Swindon Town until the end of January)[46]
EnglandDFJordan Turnbull (on loan at Swindon Town until the end of the season)[47]
No.PositionPlayer
UruguayMFGastón Ramírez (on loan at Hull City until the end of the season)[48]
ItalyFWDani Osvaldo (on loan at Inter Milan until the end of the season)[49]
EnglandFWJake Sinclair (on loan at Hibernian until the end of the season)[50]

Development squad[edit]

[44]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No.PositionPlayer
32EnglandDFJason McCarthy
34EnglandMFJake Flannigan
37EnglandMFOmar Rowe
42EnglandMFJake Hesketh
43GibraltarGKWill Britt
No.PositionPlayer
44Northern IrelandGKChris Johns
45EnglandFWRyan Seager
EnglandDFBevis Mugabi
EnglandMFDominic Gape

Non-playing staff[edit]

[51]

Stadium and training facilities[edit]

View from the Chapel Stand

St Mary's Stadium has been home to the Saints since August 2001. It has a capacity of 32,689[54] and is one of only a handful of stadia in Europe to meet UEFA's Four Star criteria.[55]

The stadium has also been host to a number of internationals including England's qualifying game against FYR Macedonia in 2002 where the teams drew 2–2, with David Beckham and Steven Gerrard scoring for England.

The club's training facilities, known as Staplewood are located in Marchwood, on the edge of the New Forest. They have received significant investment over the last 10 years, most notably during the time Sir Clive Woodward was employed by the club between 2005 and 2006, and are now considered to be among some of the best in the country. However on 8 December 2009, it was confirmed that these facilities would be ripped down and replaced with a new "state of the art" two-storey building.[56]

For the 2012–13 season, and for the foreseeable future, the club agreed a deal with Eastleigh F.C., currently of the Conference South, for the use of their stadium, The Silverlake Stadium, for The Saints' U21 team fixtures. This continues a partnership with Eastleigh that has lasted for the last decade.[57]

Fans create a tifo in the St Mary's Stadium

On 18 October 2011, a record attendance of 32,152 watched the 1–0 victory against West Ham United, beating the previous record set on 29 December 2003 when 32,151 watched the 1–0 Premier League defeat by Arsenal.[58] However, this was broken for the second time in the same season when 32,363 watched the 4–0 victory against Coventry on 28 April 2012.

Previous grounds[edit]

The club's previous home was The Dell, to which it moved in 1898 and at which it remained for 103 years. Prior to that, the club's home grounds were the Antelope Ground (from 1887 to 1896) and the County Cricket Ground (from 1896 to 1898).[59]

Anthem[edit]

The Saints' anthem is the popular sport tune When the Saints Go Marching In, and since the club's official nickname is "the Saints", they are one of only a few teams who do not change the original lyric.

Crest[edit]

The 125th Anniversary year crest

Originally, the club used the same crest as the one used by the city itself. However during the 1970s a competition was run for fans to design a new one.

The winning design, designed by Rolland Parris, was used for around 20 years, before being modified slightly by Southampton design agency The Graphics Workshop in the 1990s for copyright reasons.

From top-to-bottom, the halo is a reference to the nickname "Saints", the ball to the nature of the club, the scarf to the fans and the team colours. The tree represents the nearby New Forest and Southampton Common, with the water representing Southampton's connections with the rivers, seas and oceans. Below that is a white rose – the symbol of the city which is also present on the city crest.[60] In the mid-1990s the ball was changed from a vintage style ball (such as those used in the 1960s) to the current ball with black and white panels, for copyright reasons.

On 13 May 2010, the official crest for the 125th year anniversary was released: "The black outline and halo feature will now appear in gold, whilst the all important years 1885 and 2010 are scripted either side of the shield, with the figure 125 replacing the ball". The badge was used on Southampton's shirts for the 2010–11 season.[61]

The Saints Academy[edit]

Southampton runs a highly successful youth academy, with a number of teams from ages nine to 18 years. Recent products of the club's youth system include England internationals Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wayne Bridge and Luke Shaw, Wales winger Gareth Bale and Northern Ireland defender Chris Baird.

South Coast derby[edit]

Main article: South Coast derby

The South Coast Derby is the name given to matches between the Saints and their fierce nearby rivals, Portsmouth F.C., from the city of the same name 17 miles from Southampton. The matches are also referred to as the Hampshire Derby. Including Southern League games, there have been 70 games between the clubs, with Southampton winning 34 and Portsmouth 21.

Club honours[edit]

The club's trophy cabinet, located within the St. Mary's Stadium
Football League Division One
Football League Division Two / Football League Championship
Football League Division Three / Football League One
Football League Third Division South
Southern League
FA Cup
League Cup
FA Community Shield
Football League Trophy
Zenith Data Systems Cup
Anglo-Italian League Cup
Hampshire Senior Cup
Texaco Cup
Tennent Caledonian Cup
Trofeo Ciudad de Vigo

Most league goals[edit]

Mick Channon, who had two spells with the club, currently holds the record for the number of Football League and Premier League goals scored for The Saints. During his times with the club between 1966 and 1977, and 1979 and 1982, he netted 185 times in league competition. The next highest scorer is Matthew Le Tissier, an attacking midfielder who spent his entire career with the club between 1986 and 2002, scoring 161 goals in 442 league appearances. He was the first midfielder to reach 100 goals in the Premier League. Third highest is winger Terry Paine, who played at The Dell between 1956 and 1974. He scored 160 goals for the club.

The full list of the club's top ten all-time Football League and Premier League scorers are:

Bill Rawlings also scored 19 goals in the Southern League in 1919–20.

Sponsors[edit]

Seven companies have sponsored the club, thus appearing on the player's shirts, over the course of its history. The first company to do so was photocopier manufacturer Rank Xerox who sponsored the club for three years from 1980. Air Florida briefly sponsored Southampton in 1983 before Draper Tools, who have a large factory in nearby Eastleigh sponsored the club for nine years between 1984 and 1993. Millbrook based company Dimplex, who produce electrical goods such as heaters were the next brand name to appear on the club's shirts and merchandise. They began sponsoring in 1993 before the deal ended in 1995. The Sanderson Group PLC took up the mantle, for four years from 1995, also sponsoring Sheffield Wednesday at the same time.

Investment company Friends Provident were the final sponsors of the club's time at The Dell. Their deal began in 1999 and was renewed shortly before the naming of St. Mary's Stadium, to which they also bought the naming rights. However they chose not to renew either deal in 2006, after which budget airline Flybe.com stepped in.

On 9 May 2014, Southampton announced a two year deal with local based global consumer electronics firm Veho to become the main club sponsor from 1 July 2014.

Former Saints players[edit]

Managers[edit]

Club records[edit]

[62][63]

Longest winning run

Longest unbeaten run

Longest home winning streak

Biggest wins

Biggest losses

Highest scoring Football League game

Most appearances Terry Paine – 815  : 1956–1974

Most goals Mick Channon – 228  : 1966–1977, 1979–1982

Most goals in one season Derek Reeves – 44  : 1959–60

Most goals in one match Albert Brown – 7  : against Northampton Town, 28 December 1901

Youngest player Theo Walcott– 16 years 143 days. Against Wolverhampton Wanderers, 6 August 2005

Most capped player while at Southampton Peter Shilton – 50 caps for England (125 in total)

Record transfers

Record home attendance 32,363 against Coventry City, 28 April 2012

Transfers[edit]

Highest transfer fees paid[edit]

NameFromFeeDate
1Italy Pablo OsvaldoItaly Roma£15M2013
2Kenya Victor WanyamaScotland Celtic£12.5M2013
3Republic of Ireland Shane LongEngland Hull City£12M2014
4Uruguay Gastón RamírezItaly Bologna£12M2012
5Serbia Dusan TadićNetherlands FC Twente£10.9M2014
6Senegal Sadio ManéAustria Red Bull Salzburg£10M2014
7England Fraser ForsterScotland Celtic£10M2014
8Italy Graziano PellèNetherlands Feyenoord£9M2014
9Croatia Dejan LovrenFrance Lyon£8.5M2013
10Romania Florin GardoșRomania Steaua Bucharest£7M2014

Highest transfer fees received[edit]

NameFromFeeDate
1England Luke ShawEngland Manchester United£31M2014
2England Adam LallanaEngland Liverpool£25M2014
3Croatia Dejan LovrenEngland Liverpool£20M2014
4England Calum ChambersEngland Arsenal£16M2014
5England Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainEngland Arsenal£15M2011
6England Theo WalcottEngland Arsenal£12.5M2006
7Wales Gareth BaleEngland Tottenham Hotspur£10M2007
8England Wayne BridgeEngland Chelsea£7M2003

Most international caps[edit]

Players who have represented their country whilst contracted to Southampton

As of 5 September 2014[66]
#NameNationInternational
career
CapsGoals
1.Peter Shilton England1982–1987500
2.Mick Channon England1972–19774521
3.Anders Svensson Sweden2001–2005427
4.Chris Nicholl Northern Ireland1977–1983372
5.Paul Jones Wales1997–2003360
Claus Lundekvam Norway1998–2005362
7.Marian Pahars Latvia1999–2004338
8.Maya Yoshida Japan2012–311
9.Ron Davies Wales1966–1972267
10.Imants Bleidelis Latvia2000–2002240

World Cup players[edit]

The following players have been selected by their country in the World Cup, while playing for Southampton.

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External links[edit]