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IT WAS the first year of the Premier League and Saints were in a not unusual position of battling against relegation.

Matt Le Tissier and Iain Dowie were leading the Southampton attack after the British record transfer of Alan Shearer to Blackburn for £3.6m at the beginning of the season.

The Dell was sold out for every home game and any thoughts of a 32,000 all-seater stadium in St Mary’s was merely a dream.

Meanwhile the famous red and white striped shirt with the Draper Tools logo emblazoned across the front is a must for many a city schoolboy.

Now a rare copy of that shirt signed by many of the Saints stars from that 1992-1993 season is to go up for auction.But it will cost a fan between £15,000 and £20,000 to acquire it.

The long-sleeved Admiral shirt with the club badge is part of a collection of 22 autographed shirts, one from each club which took part in the very first season of the Premier League.

Peter Ellis, who was Queen’s Park Rangers’ chairman that season, arranged for the shirts to be signed in 1992-1993 and then had each one individually framed. Now Mr Ellis is selling the collection – in one lot – and it is expected to sell for up to £20,000 at Bonhams in Chester next Wednesday.

Christopher Hayes, a sporting memorabilia expert at auctioneers Bonhams, says the collection is “unique.”

About 15 Southampton players, including Le Tissier signed the Saints shirt. Other 1992-1993 Saints stars included: Mickey Adams, Ken Monkou, Tim Flowers, Iain Dowie, Terry Hurlock and Jason Dodd.

The Saints, then managed by Ian Branfoot, narrowly avoided relegation – by just two points. Matt Le Tissier finished top scorer with 15 league goals and goalkeeper Tim Flowers was an ever present in the team. The Saints’ aveage league gate that season was 15,382.

The shirts coming up for sale next week feature the signatures of more than 400 footballers, including Bryan Robson, ex-Saints manager Gordon Strachan, ex-Saint Andy Townsend and Ian Wright.