Andy Gray has declared this summer the groundstaff’s busiest since Southampton moved to St Mary’s in 2001.
Work on a new state-of-the-art hybrid pitch began this morning at the stadium, in keeping with a similar project taking place at Staplewood.
All 20 Premier League clubs will now have a hybrid pitch in place for the 2018/19 season.
“This is the busiest summer we’ve had since we moved here – I’ve been lucky enough to work here all that time, so I’ve seen every summer that’s come and gone,” said Gray, the club’s Grounds Manager.
“Today we’re starting the reconstruction of the upper part of the pitch.
“We’re removing the top 100mm of Rootzone, to be replaced by a fresh new material, and after that we will be stitching the pitch so it becomes a hybrid pitch, which is what the whole of the Premier League has now.
“It will be comprised of three per cent artificial fibres and 97 per cent grass. When there’s no grass on it, it will still be completely green because of the artificial fibres.
“We’ve recreated this pitch as the first-team pitch at Staplewood, along with the match pitch for the Under-18s and Under-23s, so when they play their matches and do their training they get the same feel.
“The project will take about two weeks to complete. Two weeks today we’re hoping to get the seed in the ground ready to be growing for the first match.”
Work also extends to the pitch perimeter and stands, as Saints gear up for a seventh successive season in the top flight.
“Along with the pitch, we’re replacing the pitch surrounds,” Gray added. “The red rubber track is still the original track from when the stadium was built, so it’s past its sell by date by now.
“We’ll be installing a nice astroturf carpet around the edge, coupled with new LED boards going in, as well as new floodlights up in the stands.
“It’s a very busy summer, but one I’ve been waiting for. Today’s the day it all starts and I’m looking forward to it all coming to fruition next season.”