Arsenal and Southampton Football Clubs are joint winners of Premier League grounds team award

Grounds staff in charge of Southampton and Arsenal Football Clubs pitches have been named joint Barclays Premier League Grounds Team of the year for the 2013/2014 season.

The annual award is run by the Playing Surfaces Committee in conjunction with the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).

The awards for clubs in the Premier League were previously given to the head groundsmen but this season it was decided that since a team is involved in preparing the playing service, they should all be rewarded.

Southampton grounds manager Andy Gray, who leads a team of seven ground staff at Southampton, across two sites, said: "I’m very proud to win the award but it is a team effort. Everybody in our team has their own important role to play and everybody is proud of our achievements this year, both at the stadium and training ground."

Gray puts part of his team’s success down to the use of Germinal Seeds’ A20 Premier Ryesport seed.

"I started using A20 Premier Ryesport at our main stadium and training ground last year and have been very pleased with the results. I will carry on using it next season because it has the best germination and establishment.

"I hope the quality of our pitch contributed to the team’s attractive style of football. We will continue to do all we can to help the players maintain and build on the success for next season."

The scoring system for the award is based on marks for specific aspects of pitch and management performance. It is compiled using marks from referees and match delegates at each premier league match. There is also a pitch assessment visit by the STRI and an assessment of each clubs’ management of the pitch.

The STRI noted that "pitches of the Premier League clubs were all to an exceptionally high standard". Southampton’s in particular received very high marks from referees and match delegates.

For the pitch at Emirates Stadium, managed by former head groundsman of the year Paul Ashcroft, it was noted that it also had to host UEFA Champions League matches, an additional five matches in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup as well as a concert during the summer.

The grounds teams from Aston Villa, Cardiff City and last year’s winners, Swansea City were also shortlisted for the award.

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