Southampton Profile

Major Honours FA Cup (1)
Year Founded 1885

Struggles in recent years for The Saints have seen them teetering close to relegation, but this doesn't take away from Southampton's status as a founding member of the Premier League.

Southampton Football Club are an English professional soccer club based in Southampton, Hampshire. They currently play in the Premier League and were one of the league's founding members.

The team's nickname is The Saints and they have spent a large majority of their recent history in the top flight since their first promotion in 1966. Their longest continuous period was between 1978 and 2005 - 27 years.

They play their home games at St. Mary's Stadium, which has a capacity of 32,384, having moved there in 2001. They are currently managed by accomplished Austrian tactician Ralph Hasenhuttl, who took the role in December 2018.

Southampton's early history

The first game ever competed at Southampton's The Dell stadium, competed between the Saints and Brighton, September 1898

Southampton FC were founded at St. Mary's Church on November 21, 1885. The club were initially known as St. Mary's Young Men's Association FC and then became St. Mary's FC. When the Saints joined the Southern League in 1894, they became Southampton St. Mary's.

In 1896/97, the club won the Southern League title. They became a limited company and were renamed Southampton FC.

Southampton won the Southern League for three successive years between 1897 and 1899 and again in 1901, 1903 and 1904. It was during this period that they moved into the Dell, which would be their home ground for 103 years.

The Saints made the final of the 1900 FA Cup, but lost 4-0 to Bury. In 1902, they made the final again, but were beaten 2-1 by Sheffield United in a replay.

Southampton joined the newly formed Football League Third Division in 1920 and the league would go on to split into North and South sections in 1921. Southampton were promoted at the end of the 1921/22 season and went on to stay in the Second Division for the next 31 years.

Saints briefly had to switch home grounds and play at Fratton Park, the home of rivals Portsmouth, after a bomb landed on the Dell pitch in November 1940.

Southampton were almost promoted in the 1947/48, 1948/49 and 1949/50 seasons, when they finished third. In the middle of these three seasons, they squandered an eight point lead with eight games to play, while in the latter they were beaten to second place by Sheffield United by 0.06 of a goal.

In 1953, Southampton suffered relegation and they had to wait until 1960 to play Second Division soccer again. Derek Reeves scored 39 goals for the Saints en route to promotion.

Southampton's foray into Europe and FA Cup win

Southampton celebrate their FA Cup win over Manchester United, May 1976

In 1966, Southampton gained promotion to the First Division with Martin Chivers scoring 30 league goals.

The Saints finished seventh in the First Division in 1968/69 and again in 1970/71. In 1969/70, they featured in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, losing in Round 3 to Newcastle United. In the 1971/72 UEFA Cup, they lost in the first round against Athletic Bilbao.

In 1974, Southampton suffered relegation, but they rebuilt in the Second Division with signings such as Peter Osgood, Jim Steele, Jim McCalliog and Peter Rodrigues. In 1976, a goal from Bobby Stokes handed the Saints a 1-0 upset win over Manchester United in the FA Cup final, securing the trophy for the first and only time in their history. The following season, they featured in the Cup Winners' Cup and lost 3-2 on aggregate in the third round to Anderlecht.

In 1977/78, a Southampton team captained by Alan Ball finished second to Bolton Wanderers in the Second Division and gained promotion to the First Division. The following season, they reached the final of the League cup, but were beaten 3-2 by Nottingham Forest at Wembley.

In 1981/82, Kevin Keegan starred in a Southampton side which led the title race for some time. However, a back injury hampered the Saints' title push and ultimately they finished in seventh place.

In 1983/84, Southampton finished second in the First Division, three points behind winners Liverpool. They reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in the same season, but were beaten 1-0 by Everton at Highbury.

Saints finished fifth the following year, but due to the Heysel disaster and subsequent ban of English clubs in European competitions, they were unable to compete in the UEFA Cup.

The late 1980s saw the rise of former academy players Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer. Le Tissier would go on to become one of Southampton's most iconic players, while Shearer left the club in July 1992 and won the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers. At the time Shearer was sold for a national record of more than £3million after having had a successful four year spell on the South Coast.

Southampton in the Premier League era

Southampton players celebrate a goal in a Championship game

Southampton were founding members of the Premier League in 1992/93. They were generally a mid-to-lower-table club until an impressive season in 2002/03 saw the Saints finish in eighth place.

Saints also lost the 2003 FA Cup final 1-0 to Arsenal that season at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. James Beattie scored 24 goals for the Saints in all competitions in 2002/03, including 23 in the Premier League.

However, manager Gordon Strachan resigned in March 2004 and Saints fell into turmoil, which was not helped by the appointment of former Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp in December 2004. Redknapp couldn't prevent relegation in 2005 and later that year, he would go on to manage Pompey again, much to the disgust of Saints supporters.

Southampton were relegated from the Championship in 2009, but were promoted again in 2011 and reached the top flight once more in 2012.

Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman enjoyed successful spells in charge of Southampton and turned them into a competitive Premier League outfit. Recently, they have bounced up and down the table, but been a stable force in the top flight for nearly a decade.

Southampton's fanbase

Southampton fans walking to St Mary's for a pre-season friendly, August 2021

The popular tune "When the Saints Go Marching In" is Southampton's anthem, which fits well with their nickname.

Southampton's recognition and popularity in the early 1900's brought an Athletico Bilbao representative, who was also an Atletico Madrid player, over to the south coast, where he bought 50 Saints shirts and brought them back and shared them between his two teams.

Southampton inspired those two Spanish sides, giving them the same red and white identity they still have to this day.

Southampton's rivalries

The South Coast Derby with Portsmouth is undoubtedly Southampton's most venomous rivalry, as Harry Redknapp discovered while managing the Saints. However, it wasn't until the 1970s that the rivalry became particularly intense.

The two clubs are only separated by a distance of 19 miles, with both cities being important ports. However, due to the two sides often being in different divisions, there have only been 71 encounters between them. Southampton have won almost half of them, while they have regularly been the most successful of the two sides, featuring higher in the soccer pyramid. Southampton have won six of their seven cup encounters too.

Southampton's finances

Southampton went into administration in 2009 but ultimately recovered. Their current chairman is Gao Jisheng, who completed a multi-million pound takeover of the club in 2017. He acquired an 80% stake for approximately £210m following talks with the club that lasted over a year. The investment was in a personal capacity rather than through his company Lander Sports.

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