- Name: Southampton Football Club
- Nickname: The Saints
- Founded: 1885 (as St Mary's YMA FC)
- Renamed: 1887 to St Mary's FC
- Renamed: 1894 to Southampton St Mary's
- Renamed: 1896 to Southampton FC
- Ground: St Mary's Stadium
- Ground capacity: 32,589
St Mary's Stadium
St Mary's Stadium is the home of Premier League club Southampton F.C. in the city of Southampton. It is a UEFA 4-star rated stadium and with a capacity of 32,589 is the largest football stadium in the south of England, outside of London. Since the 1980s, when Southampton regularly challenged the best sides in the English league (particularly in 1984 when they were league runners-up), there had been talk of the club relocating to a new stadium to replace The Dell due to the old stadium's cramped location which made it unsuitable for major expansion work.
When the Taylor Report on 29 January 1990 required all First and Second Division clubs to have all-seater stadiums by August 1994, Southampton's directors initially decided to upgrade The Dell into an all-seater stadium (which was completed in 1993) but speculation about relocation continued, especially as an all-seater Dell had a capacity of just over 15,000; despite this, Southampton continued to defy the odds and survive in the new FA Premier League after 1992.
After a lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to build a new 25,000 seater stadium and leisure complex at Stoneham, on the outskirts of Southampton, the city council offered the club the chance to build a new ground on the disused gas work site in the heart of the city, about one and half miles from The Dell.
The move was cited as the club returning home, because the club was formed by members of the nearby St. Mary's Church, as the football team of St. Mary's Church Young Men's Association before becoming Southampton St. Mary's F.C., and eventually Southampton F.C. Construction started in December 1999 and was completed at the end of July 2001, with work on the stadium itself and improvements to local infrastructure cost a total of £32 million.
The Saints have been in residence since August 2001 when they moved from The Dell, which for the final years of its life, held just over 15,000 spectators – less than half the size of the new stadium. The first match was played on 1 August 2001 against RCD Espanyol, with the Spanish side winning 4–3.
The first competitive hat trick at the stadium was not scored by a Saints player, nor was it scored in a game involving Southampton F.C. That honour goes to former Aldershot Town striker Stafford Browne, who scored three goals in the Shots' 3–1 victory over Havant & Waterlooville in the Hampshire Senior Cup final on 1 May 2002.
The stadium is a complete bowl, with all stands of equal height. There are two large screens at either end that can be seen from any seat. The stadium has four stands, which are named after the areas of Southampton they face. The main (east) stand is the Itchen Stand, and faces the River Itchen. The opposite stand is called the Kingsland Stand. Behind the south goal is the Chapel Stand, and to the north is the Northam Stand.
At the rear of the Chapel, Kingsland and Northam Stands, there is a continuous, translucent 'panel' that is designed to allow light to access the pitch. A large section of the roof at the Chapel Stand, at the southern end of the stadium is also translucent, for the same reason. At the rear of the Itchen Stand, there are 42 executive boxes, and a police control room.
The stand also houses the club's offices, changing rooms, press facilities and corporate hospitality suites. The four main hospitality suites are named after some of Saints' greatest players: Terry Paine - Mick Channon - Bobby Stokes - Matt Le Tissier. The Northam Stand is home to the majority of the more vocal supporters, as well as visiting fans. Visitors can be given up to 4,250 seats (15 per cent of the capacity) for cup games, and up to 3,200 for league matches.
The official ground name at opening was 'The Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium'. Initially the club wanted the ground to be named purely after the sponsors, but fan pressure influenced the decision to include a non-commercial title. In 2006 the new sponsor Flybe.com did not choose to purchase the naming rights to the stadium, meaning it reverted to the name 'St Mary's Stadium'.
Capacity The ground has an all-seated capacity of 32,689, including the press and directors boxes. Because of the segregation between home and away fans in the Northam Stand, it is unlikely the full capacity will ever be reached for a competitive match.
The current record attendance was for the match between Southampton and Coventry City on 28 April 2012, when 32,363 spectators attended. The lowest league record was Southampton versus Sheffield United, when just 13,257 attended. In recent seasons the club's lower league position has had an impact on attendances, although the visit of Exeter City on Boxing Day, 2009 in a League One fixture attracted an attendance of 30,890.
During the 2009–10 League One campaign, attendances increased significantly, attracting 29,901 against Milton Keynes Dons in the Football League Trophy and then, just 4 days later, 31,385 in a South Coast derby against Portsmouth in the FA Cup.
The overall average attendance for the league season was 20,982, a near 3,000 improvement on the previous season despite being a league lower. During the 2010–11 League One campaign, the team was strongly backed by fans and attendances rarely went below 18,000. The lowest league attendance during this season was 18,623 against Yeovil, while the highest league attendance during the season was 31,653 against Walsall.
The Ted Bates Statue
On 17 March 2007, the £102,000 statue to commemorate club stalwart Ted Bates was unveiled, outside the front of the Itchen Stand. Almost immediately, the statue was widely condemned by supporters due to it being out of proportion, and not an accurate likeness of the former club President. The 11-foot statue was made by sculptor Ian Brennan. Former chairman, Leon Crouch stated that he would help fund a replacement or remedial work, in association with the Ted Bates Trust, who were overseeing the collection of funds, commission and erection of the statue. The statue was removed less than a week after its unveiling. The replacement statue was unveiled on 22 March 2008.
Since 1896, Southampton had been tenants of Hampshire County Cricket Club at the County Ground, having vacated the Antelope Ground in the summer of 1896. The rent payable to the cricket club (£200 p.a.) was putting a strain on the football club's finances and, in an attempt to reduce this burden, the club had considered a merger with the Freemantle club and a move to their ground in Shirley. The merger proposals had fallen down, but at the Extraordinary general meeting in June 1897, the members were informed that "the committee had a ground in view".
At a shareholders' meeting on 11 November 1897, the chairman stated:
". . . that all being well, by next season the company would be in possession of its own ground which was at the present time in the hands of George Thomas Esq. who was devoting his time to its early completion."
Although the minutes do not record the location of the new ground, it was common knowledge within the town that the new ground was situated
". . . in the dell that is not far from the County Ground, and nearer West Station and the town, and at the present time it is a narrow valley with a stone culvert running along the bottom. It will not be a large ground, but the natural banks on all sides will be a great help in arranging for the convenience of the spectators."
The site on which the ground was built was described in Philip Brannon's Picture of Southampton, published in 1850, as "a lovely dell with a gurgling stream and lofty aspens";the stream is the Rollsbrook which flows out of Southampton Common, running parallel to Hill Lane before now disappearing under Commercial Road and the Central Station, from where it is conduited under Southampton Docks into Southampton Water.
The land had been purchased in the 1880s by the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway to enable them to continue their line from Winchester via Twyford, Chandlers Ford, a tunnel at Chilworth and Shirley where it was to pass to the North East of what is now St James' Park, Southampton and St. James' Church.
From here the line would have travelled south across Hill Lane to run through the dell and onto an embankment leading to a viaduct over Commercial Road and the London and South Western Railway line before terminating on the Western Esplanade North of the Royal Pier. The dell was stripped of vegetation and the stream channelled into a conduit with work started on the embankment, which survives behind property to the North of Commercial Road but was never used,and the viaduct which was part built but later demolished. The project was abandoned at this point and agreement reached to connected to the London and South Western Railway at Shawford Junction with running rights into Southampton.
The stadium was opened in September 1898 with the inaugural match on 3 September being against Brighton United. The first goal at the stadium was scored by Watty Keay with the others from Abe Hartley, Jim McKenzie and Tom Smith as Southampton won 4–1.
Redevelopment In 1927, the original West Stand was demolished (together with the club secretary's house) and the new West Stand was built. This was designed by Archibald Leitch, one of the greatest football stand designers of the day, who had also designed stands at Fratton Park, Roker Park and at Goodison Park. A year later, on the last day of the 1928–29 season a dropped cigarette caused a fire which destroyed the East Stand. A replacement stand was built which mirrored the West Stand, increasing the ground capacity to approximately 30,000.
On 30 November 1940, a German bomb fell on the stadium during The Blitz, creating an 18-foot crater in the Milton Road penalty area. While the pitch was being restored, Southampton had to play their remaining fixtures in 1940–41 away, although in February 1941, they played a "home" War Cup tie with Brentford at Fratton Park, Portsmouth.
In March 1941, an explosion of munitions stored at the ground caused a major fire in the West Stand although this was rebuilt soon afterwards. At the start of the 1941–42 season they played their home games at Dew Lane, Eastleigh, before the Dell was re-opened in October 1941.
In 1950, The Dell became the first ground in England to have permanent floodlighting installed. The first game played under the lights was on 31 October 1950, in a friendly against Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic, followed a year later by the first "official" match under floodlights, a Football Combination (Reserve team) match against Tottenham Hotspur on 1 October 1951. During the post-war years, huge crowds packed into The Dell. The attendance record was broken on 8 October 1969, when 31,044 watched Southampton lose 3–0 to a Manchester United team which included George Best and Bobby Charlton.
In the 1980s, there were several changes at the ground, with the makeshift chocolate boxes at the Milton Road end being replaced by a new stand used for family ticket holders a two level concrete structure. The standing areas under the East and West stands being fitted with bench seats, before The Dell became an all-seater stadium in the early 1990s in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster on 15 April 1989, which obliged all clubs in the top two English divisions had all-seater stadiums. New stands were erected at both ends of the stadium, but by the 1993–94 season the stadium now had a capacity of just over 15,000, the smallest in the top level of English football. The Milton Road Stand was notable for its wedge-like appearance.
By this time, Southampton were looking for a new home. By the mid-1990s it seemed as if the search was over as the club announced plans to move to a new stadium at Monks Brook playing fields near the village of North Stoneham, Eastleigh. However, the club fell into a dispute with the local council about the lack of community facilities. Many people in Eastleigh were also unhappy with having another town's football club in their area.
The dispute was resolved when the chairman, Rupert Lowe, declared new plans for the club to move to a new 32,000-seat stadium, for a cost of £32 million, on Brittania Road on the banks of the River Itchen. The relocation was confirmed at the end of the 1998–99 season (when Southampton achieved a late escape from relegation for the sixth time in eight seasons) and work began soon afterwards.
The new St Mary's Stadium was ready for the 2001–02 season. On 19 May 2001, midfielder Matthew Le Tissier (who retired from playing a year later) said goodbye to the stadium that had been host to his entire professional career by scoring a volley in the final minutes of the final league game securing a 3–2 win against Arsenal.
On 26 May, the club's fans said goodbye to The Dell by stripping all of its seats, the pitch and one man even walked off with an advertising board at the end of a friendly with Brighton and Hove Albion – making them the first and last club to play Southampton at the stadium. Southampton won this game 1–0, with the goal (the last ever at The Dell) being scored by Uwe Rösler.
During its 103-year life, The Dell had been home to Southampton during some of its finest moments – most of all during the 1976 FA Cup run, which finished with a win at Wembley. The Dell was demolished later in 2001 and a housing estate was built on the site.The apartment blocks on the site bear the names of former Southampton players: Stokes Court, Bates Court, Le Tissier Court, Wallace Court, Channon Court
Southampton Football Club 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 is the St Mary's Stadium, where the club moved to in 2001 from 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.
Southampton were relegated from the Premier League on 15 May 2005 ending 27 successive seasons of top-division football for the club.
The club eventually returned to the Premier league after a 7 year absence and have been playing there since the 2012–13 season.
For further information check out their Official website
Bobby Stokes - 1968 to 1977
Terry Paine - 1957 to 1974
Mick Channon 1965 - 77 & 1979 - 82
Matt Le Tissier 1986 to 2002
- Football League Division One
- Runners-up: 1983–84
- Football League Division Two / Football League Championship
- Runners-up: 1965–66, 1977–78, 2011–12
- Football League Division Three / Football League One
- Champions: 1959–60
- Runners-up: 2010–11
- Football League Third Division South
- Champions: 1921–22
- Southern League
- Champions: 1896–97, 1897–98, 1898–99, 1900–01, 1902–03, 1903–04
- FA Cup
- Winners: 1976
- Finalists: 1900, 1902, 2003
- League Cup
- Finalists: 1979
- FA Community Shield
- Finalists: 1976
- Football League Trophy
- Winners: 2010
- Zenith Data Systems Cup
- Finalists: 1992
- Anglo-Italian League Cup
- Finalists: 1976
- Hampshire Senior Cup
- Winners 17 times (includes wins as St Mary's and Southampton St Mary's, and wins by 'A' and reserve teams)
- Texaco Cup
- Finalists: 1975
- Tennent Caledonian Cup
- Winners: 1976
- Finalists: 1978
- Trofeo Ciudad de Vigo
- Winners: 1983
- The first known photograph of the St. Mary's team taken two weeks after the Hampshire Junior Cup
- final in April 1888. Standing: F. J. Montgomery, G. Carter, M. Warn, J. L. Sommerville, A. A. Fry,
- G .C. Gandy. Sitting: A. Varley, C. E. Bromley (Capt.), G. Muir, A. Gandy. On ground: C. Deacon,
- F. J. Crossley, R. Ruffell.
Southampton FC History
Southampton Football Club is a professional football club that was formed in 1885.
The roots of the club can be traced to members of St. Mary's Church Young Men's Association, who played their football at various venues in Southampton for 13 years, prior to the move to The Dell in 1898.
In 2001 the move from The Dell to the new Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium was deemed to be a spiritual homecoming for Southampton F.C., because of the new stadium's proximity to St. Mary's Church, the church where the club was founded by members of the St Mary's Church of England Young Men's Association.
Their first match took place on 21 November 1885 on a pitch in Northlands Road, where the Hampshire Bowling Club was subsequently situated, close to the County Cricket Ground; St Mary's won 5–1 against Freemantle, with three goals from Charles Bromley and two from A. A. Fry; in goal was Ralph Ruffell, who would remain with the club for nearly ten years.
St Mary's Y.M.A., as they were usually referred to in the local press, played most of their early games on Southampton Common, and games were not infrequently interrupted by pedestrian insistent on exercising their right to roam. More important matches, such as cup games, were played either at the County Ground, 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 they won the Southern League title in 1896–97, the club became a limited company and changed their name to Southampton F.C.
They 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
After the First World War, when many teams were broken up by the call of National Service, Saints joined the newly formed Football League Division 3 in 1920 which split into South and North sections a year later. The 1920–21 season ended in triumph with promotion and marked the beginning of a 31-year stay in Division 2.
In 1925 and 1927, they reached the semi-finals of the F.A. 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.
Promotion was narrowly missed in 1947-48 when they finished in third place, a feat repeated the following season (despite having an 8 point lead with 8 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 Division 2 status with Derek Reeves plundering 39 of the champions' 106 league goals. On 27 April 1963 a crowd of 68000 at Villa Park saw them lose 1–0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final.
Reaching the First Division
The dream of Division 1 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 7th 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.
Under Lawrie McMenemy's management, Saints started to rebuild in Division 2, capturing players such as Peter Osgood, Jim McCalliog and Jim Steele and their greatest moment came in 1976, when they reached the 1976 FA Cup Final, playing Manchester United at Wembley Stadium, and surprised all observers by beating United 1–0 thanks to a goal from Bobby Stokes.
The following season, they played in Europe again in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup 1976–77, reaching Round 3 where they lost 2–3 on aggregate to Anderlecht Anderlecht
Return to the top flight
In 1977-78, captained by Alan Ball, Saints finished runners-up in the Second Division (behind champions 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 when they acquitted themselves well, losing 3–2 to Nottingham Forest.
In 1980, McMenemy made his finest 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, Phil Boyer, Mick Channon and Charlie George and in 1980-81 they scored 76 goals, finishing in 6th place, then their highest league finish.
1981-82 was another successful season for the Saints, who by December 1981 were looking like serious title contenders and finally went top of the table on 30 January 1982 with a 1–0 away win over struggling Middlesbrough. Despite finding themselves on the receiving end of a 5–2 demolition at Ipswich Town less than three weeks later (in which Alan Brazil scored all five of the Suffolk club's goals), the Saints hung onto their lead of the league before they were finally leapfrogged by Swansea City on 20 March after nearly two months at the top. They briefly regained their lead of the league a week later with a 4–3 home win over Stoke City , but their form during the final few weeks of the season took something of a nosedive and they had to settle for a seventh place finish - not even enough for UEFA Cup qualification - as the title went to Liverpool.
Southampton continued to progress well 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 (3 points behind the champions Liverpool) as well as reaching the semi-final of the F.A. Cup losing 1–0 to Everton at Highbury Stadium. This meant that they came closer than any other English team that season to winning the double.
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 qualified for the UEFA Cup once again. McMenemy resigned as manager on 1 June 1985 after nearly 12 years in charge, and was succeeded by former player Chris Nicholl.
Original monochrome photograph by the Globe Photographic Company, Southampton, of Southampton St. Mary's FC sitting in rows on the Royal Pier Pavilion.
The exact date is unknown but many of the individuals also appear in a photograph known to have been taken at the end of the 1893-94 season.
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 lineup was Guernsey-born 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 seven appearances for the England team—he finally retired in 2002 at the age of 33. During his time with the Saints, Le Tissier was approached more than once by several bigger clubs (including Manchester United) but chose to stick with the Saints despite never winning a major trophy or experiencing European football with them.
From 1989 to 1992, Le Tissier was regularly partnered up front by another notable player - Alan Shearer, who as a 17-year-old had scored a hat-trick on his Saints debut against Arsenal in April 1988 and became a regular player in the 1989–90 season, and by 1991-92 was firmly established as one of the English league's highest rated strikers. After months of speculation that Shearer was going to join Manchester United, he was sold to Blackburn Rovers for a national record of £3.6million in July 1992. He went on to enjoy an illustrious career as one of English football's leading goalscorers of all time, as well as collecting a league title with Blackburn Rovers in 1995, and becoming the world's most expensive footballer with his £15million move in July 1996 to Newcastle United, where he remained until his retirement as a player 10 years later. Shearer was also capped 63 times for England, scoring 30 goals.
In the Premiership
Southampton were founding members of the Premiership in 1992–93, having played in the top flight of English football since 1978. In May 2005 they were relegated to the 2nd tier of English football for the first time in 27 years.
Ian Branfoot was sacked in January 1994 with Southampton battling relegation. He was replaced by Exeter manager Alan Ball. Ball secured the Saints' survival for the 1993–94 season and guided them to a respectable tenth-place finish in the Premiership in 1994–95, with inspirational performances from Matthew Le Tissier. But 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 two Scottish league titles with Rangers and an FA Cup victory with Liverpool. He resigned after just one season in charge, which had seen Southampton finish 16th in the Premiership, and Southampton's directors turned to Dave Jones—one of the most respected managers outside the Premiership who had won promotion to Division One with Stockport County as well as reaching the League Cup semi finals.
With such an inexperienced manager, Southampton were tipped by many observers to be relegated from the Premiership in 1997–98. But thanks to the addition of young striker Kevin Davies, and the acquisition of a few others, Southampton achieved a respectable 12th place finish in the table. Their form dipped in 1998–99 but they avoided relegation on the last day of the season. 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, a welcome move after playing in the cramped 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's 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 from another club, 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 ever competitive match at the Dell, talismanic Matthew Le Tissier came on late to strike the last ever goal in sublime fashion. Southampton finished the match 3–2 against Arsenal, providing a fairy-tale ending to the days at The Dell. But Gray was sacked after a disastrous start to the following season, and in came ex-Coventry manager Gordon Strachan as his replacement.
Gordon Strachan did much to revitalise Southampton during the 2001–02 season, and they finished in a secure 11th place in the final table. They did even better in 2002–03, finished eighth in the Premiership and coming runners-up in the FA Cup to Arsenal (after losing 1–0 at the Millennium Stadium).
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. 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. The news shocked much of the football world, as Redknapp had resigned as manager of Saints' arch-rivals Portsmouth just days previously. 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.
Relegated after 27 years
Redknapp failed to rejuvenate the Saints, and on 15 May 2005, Southampton were relegated from the Premiership following a 2–1 home defeat to Manchester United, thus ending 27 successive seasons of top division football. Saints made a disappointing start to the season, with the emergence of young star Theo Walcott as a rare cause for optimism. Yet even more shocks were to await the fans.
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 22 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, after failing to secure any inward investment into the company. On 2 March it was announced that Leon Crouch would take the role of "acting Chairman" until the end of the current season, when the Board will re-assess the situation.
On 27 April 2007, it was rumoured that Paul Allen, the American entrepreneur who formed Microsoft with Bill Gates, may launch a takeover bid for the club. An apparent close source said "he believes there is long term investment value in UK Soccer. Southampton is a sleeping giant, a family-supported club with traditional values, and we see the value in taking the brand global."
In the Championship
Southampton's off-the-field controversy affected their on-the-field fortunes substantially during 2005–06, and at one point they 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 12th.
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 have all had great runs in form. A drastic loss in the team's form overall, coupled with inept 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 6th 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.
2007–08 initially looked to be an unremarkable campaign, with the club in mid-table for the first half of the campaign. Once again though, Southampton experienced a major loss of form in the spring, not helped by managerial instability caused by the resignation of George Burley followed by caretaker spells by John Gorman and then Nigel Pearson, and were left in serious danger of relegation to League One on the last day of the season. Fortunately a win combined with some other favourable results ensured their survival for another year, but the enforced sale of most of their star players combined with the general inexperience of the remaining players and yet more changes in the managerial seat (Pearson was replaced by Jan Poortvliet prior to the start of the season, before Mark Wotte took over midway through the campaign) led to a disastrous 2008–09 season, in which the club were never outside the bottom five at any point in the campaign, and never left the relegation zone after Christmas.
In League One
Southampton were told on 23 April 2009 that they would be deducted 10 points either in the 2008–09 season, should they finish outside the bottom three, or in 2009–10 in the event of them being relegated, due to their parent company going into administration a few weeks earlier. In the event, this deduction occurred in the 2009–10 season, when Southampton began playing in League One, as the club finished 23rd out of 24 at the end of the 2008–09 Championship season. 2009–10 represents the first time since 1960 that the club has played at the third tier of English league football. Alan Pardew was appointed as the Saints' new manager and turned their fortunes around, including adding the League Trophy to their cabinet, but the points deduction and a mediocre start to the season prevented them from truly mounting a promotion challenge, with the season ending in a 7th place finish. The following season started well, but Pardew was sacked barely a month into the season after an apparent fall-out with the club's board, and Nigel Adkins succeeded him as manager. Under his leadership, the Saints were promoted as runners-up.
Return to the Championship
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.
The Saints' convincing start to the campaign continued until home form wavered, with a 2–2 draw with Blackpool on 10 December, the first time all 3 points had not been claimed at home since drawing 0–0 to Notts County on Saturday 15 January 2011.
The 2012 January transfer window brought Japanese striker Tadanari Lee to Southampton on a free transfer and striker Billy Sharp from Doncaster Rovers for an undisclosed fee. Sharp scored his first goal for Southampton on his home debut in a 2–0 win over Burnley on 11 February 2012. Lee scored his first Southampton goal in fantastic style, with a rocket strike at home against Derby County. The goal was the 4th of the afternoon and secured a 4–0 victory.
Whereas home form continued inconsistent, with a 2–0 loss to Leicester, away form improved, with a convincing 3–0 win at Nottingham Forest. A draw at home to Cardiff at the end of January saw Saints' home form start to turn around while they continued to take points away from home, with draws against promotion candidates Birmingham and West Ham, and a 3–2 victory at Millwall in which Lambert scored his fourth hat-trick. Home form was recovered with league victories Burnley, Derby, Barnsley and Doncaster, and a draw against Ipswich Town.
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
After much speculation about the player, 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 served a stark reminder of the years leading to their initial relegation with lacklustre performances, few points and occupying a relegation space for much of the campaign. A difficult set of opening fixtures starting at The Etihad did not go well – Southampton conceded 24 goals in their first eight games and picked up just 4 points. This left them 18th in the table by November.
Southampton's form did however improve as the season progressed, with a 2–2 draw away at Chelsea on 16 January 2013, which indeed provided the turning point, 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 well earned point. Two days after that draw, Nigel Adkins was sacked amid controversy to be immediately replaced by Argentinian coach Mauricio Pochettino.
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. And on 14 May 2013, Southampton confirmed their safety in the Premier League for the following season after Wigan Athletic lost to Arsenal, who became relegated in the process. 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. 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. The Saints also signed Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren from Lyon for a fee reported to be in the region of £8.5 million.
In stark contrast to the previous season, the Saints were off to a flying start, winning their first game 1–0 away at West Brom, and picking 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 thanks to Lovren's nod in from a corner – his first goal for the side since his move to the club. Dani Osvaldo netted his first goal for the club in a 2–0 home victory against Crystal Palace on 28 September. This lifted the side to 4th in the Premier League table. Following the win against Crystal Palace, Southampton went undefeated for five consecutive league fixtures, after impressive victories against Swansea City and Fulham, along with drawing against previous season's champions Manchester United. Despite the impressive start to the campaign, the Saints did not win for 6 consecutive league matches, suffering defeats to early pace setters in Arsenal, and title hopefuls Manchester City and Chelsea.
The next three points for the team came at Cardiff City, winning 3–0 on Boxing Day, their first win in over a month. The Saints however secured the league double against West Brom, but first team members Gastón Ramírez and Dejan Lovren both suffered injuries, and were subsequently replaced. They lost to Arsenal and drew against Sunderland, but again secured another league double against Fulham, winning 3–0. Southampton found themselves near the end of the top half of the table come February, after drawing to Stoke and winning at Hull. Two successive defeats to Liverpool and West Ham saw Southampton move to 9th in the table, however, they did manage to secure three points against Crystal Palace and strugglers Norwich.
Despite losing to Tottenham following a late winner from Gylfi Sigurðsson, Southampton showed resilience towards the end of the season, and after impressive wins away at Everton and a draw against Manchester United, Southampton ended their season in their highest Premier League finish, finishing 8th, on 56 points, 13 points and two spaces behind Tottenham Hostpur (who claimed the last Europa League spot), who finished on 69 points.
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 is joined by his brother Erwin as assistant manager, and Jan Kluitenberg as fitness coach.
At the end of the 2013–14 season, Southampton released six players, including Brazilian midfielder Guly do Prado, 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, left-back Luke Shaw moved to Manchester United for a club record fee in the region of £27 million, and right-back Calum Chambers joined Arsenal for approximately £16 million.
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. Tadić was followed by Italian striker Graziano Pellè, who signed from Feyenoord on 12 July. 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) as a direct replacement for Manchester United signing Luke Shaw. On or around 11 August, Southampton signed 26 year-old, 6' 7" Fraser Forster for £10 million from Celtic. Coming hot-on-the-heels of the capture of Forster, 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 exciting 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. Rather curiously Southampton also released Saphir Taider who had only joined Southampton some 3 weeks previously on a planned season-long loan, without so much as playing one match for the Saints.
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. This was quite an achievement given the Southampton squad was arguably stronger as a result of all of the club's transfer dealings.
On 14th June 2016 Ronald Koeman was announced as the new Everton manager.
Southampton then announced on 30th June 2016 that Claude Puel would take over as manager on a 3 year deal.
Despite getting to a Wembley final, losing 3-2 to Manchester United in the League Cup, and finishing 8th in the Premier League, Puel was sacked on 15th June, after just one season in charge.
On June 23rd 2017 Mauricio Pellegrino was announced as Southampton's new manager.