The quality of the pitches at Emirates Stadium and St Mary’s Stadium this season have been recognised with a joint award for Grounds Team of the Season in the Premier League for Arsenal and Southampton.
Run by the Playing Surfaces Committee in conjunction with The Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), the awards recognise the importance of the quality of pitches for professional football, encourages all groundstaff to produce high-quality pitches and acknowledges the head groundsmen and their staff who produce the best playing surfaces in each division.
The awards for clubs in the Premier League were previously given to the head groundsmen of clubs but this season it was decided that the terminology should change to reflect the growing number of people involved in preparing the playing surface.
As well as the joint winners, Arsenal and Southampton, three more Premier League clubs’ grounds teams were shortlisted: Aston Villa, Cardiff City and last year’s winners, Swansea City.
The scoring system for Grounds Team of the Year for Premier League clubs is based on marks for specific aspects of pitch and management performance. It is compiled using marks from referees and match delegates.
There is also a pitch assessment visit by the STRI and an assessment of each clubs’ management of the pitch as well as factoring in other elements such as environmental issues, shade and resources available to the club.
The STRI noted that "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, 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.
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