SAINTS supporter Mark Saunders admits the current situation surrounding his club is “getting beyond a joke” and turning into every fan’s “worst nightmare.”

The lifelong supporter has written an open letter to the board of Southampton Football Club, which the Daily Echo prints in full here ....

It is with great sadness that I write this letter, but it is the only way I can think of to vent both my frustration and anger at the way my beloved Southampton is being torn apart.

It was not too long ago I was looking forward to another season in the Premier League and even quietly optimistic of seeing Saints build on a fantastic 2013/14 season.

However, even the most pessimistic fan could not have predicted what was going to happen.

Yes, most fans expected to see a couple of faces leave the club, but it is now getting beyond a joke.

What is frustrating is that most people could see that with a tiny bit of investment this great club of ours could have been competing for a trophy and even a European place, even if it was the Europa League. After achieving so much last season, the great fans of Southampton should have been looking forward to a bright future, but then Pochettino left and the alarm bells started to ring.

Before we could even start looking forward to next season, players started to be linked with this and that club.

Foolishly I, like many other Saints fans, believed that Les Reed would soon put a halt to this speculation, but sadly no, the mass exodus started!

Shaw, Lambert, Lallana, Lovren, and now Chambers! Okay, we managed to replace Pochettino with Dutch legend Ronald Koeman, but not even his appointment could stop our star players leaving.

Koeman was quoted as saying that any player leaving would be replaced with equal to or better players.....we've managed to sign just two.

Other clubs seem to be linked with a player, and then a couple of days later said player is wearing the shirt.

Not Southampton, though, we are linked with a player and that's where it ends.

I'm starting to worry that it's the clubs intention to replace the likes of Shaw, Lambert, Chambers Lallana and Lovren with academy players. Yes one, possibly two young players gradually integrated into the team over time will work, but to chuck more than that straight into the first team is asking for trouble, especially in the Premier League.

With the risk of sounding cynical, I even wonder if the club's decision to return to red and white stripes was just an effort to deflect the fans' attention away from the subject of transfers?

Instead of looking forward to next season with optimism, I find my myself worrying about whether or not we will even have a team good enough to stay in the league. Where there is no doubting Koeman's credentials as a top class manager, he is only as good as the players that he has at his disposal.

The reason why Saints did so well last season was that the team was settled, knew each others’ strengths and seemed to be united in their effort to achieve their goals.

I really hope I'm proved wrong and we have another fantastic season, but at this moment in time I doubt that.

I was born in Southampton and have been a Saints fan for as long as I can remember, and that will not change irrespective of who plays for the club or which league we are in. It's just a shame that the we were so close to realising Markus Liebherr's dream, only for things to quickly turn in to every fan’s worst nightmare.

Forever a Saints fan Mark Saunders. Gloucestershire.