1. ITV Report

Saints march on to Premier League after 7 year absence

A young Southampton fan celebrates promotion to the Premier League. Photo: PA Wire

Southampton secured their return to the Barclays Premier League after a seven-year absence with a comfortable 4-0 win against already relegated Coventry.

Goals from Billy Sharp and Jose Fonte in the first half and Jos Hooiveld and Adam Lallana after the break gave a record St Mary's crowd the result they had been eagerly hoping for.

Southampton Billy Sharp of is helped down the tunnel by stewards at the end of the game. Credit: PA Wire

Manager Nigel Adkins admitted he would enjoy a glass of bubbly after guiding his his side to "something special."

The Saints boss praised the character and professionalism of his players over the course of the entire campaign that propelled the south coast club back to the top flight.

After a seven-year absence, during which Southampton have endured two seasons in League One, Premier League football will return to St Mary's from August.

Southampton's Daniel Fox is carried off the pitch by jubilant fans at the end of the game. Credit: PA Wire

Despite the celebrations following the final whistle at St Mary's, Adkins revealed the failure to claim the Championship title still grates with him.

A stumble in form towards the end of the campaign allowed Reading to sneak into top spot above Southampton but, while Adkins is evidently frustrated his side were not crowned champions, he was delighted to have secured automatic promotion.

While the Saints' party is just getting started, Coventry find themselves in a similar position to that which faced their hosts three years ago.

Back then, Southampton dropped into League One after being hit with a 10-point deduction by the Football League.

But the Saints regrouped and rebuilt, and that is exactly what Sky Blues boss Andy Thorn intends to do over the summer as City prepare for life in the third tier.

"I've told the boys that we've got to use that as a learning curve and guide them to where we want to get to," he said.

"What's happened to us, happened to them and we've got to try and be positive. Those are the levels you want to get to. I know we're young and I know we're inexperienced but there's nothing to stop you applying yourself properly and you get a winning mentality.

"We get back and we start and we freshen things up. They've done it, other teams have done it, now we have to do it."

Celebrities took to Twitter to congratulate Southampton.

To read more on how Saints clinched promotion see ITV Meridian's coverage here.