SOUTHAMPTON Football Club is celebrating the off-the-pitch goals it has scored since an eco-friendly project was launched a year ago.

Saints have marked the first anniversary of The Halo Effect by highlighting the progress made towards ensuring a sustainable future for the club, its fans and the local community.

A total of 1,000 trees were planted by pupils at Redbridge Community School to absorb noise and carbon, improve students' privacy and improve local biodiversity.

A further 250 trees were planted at the club’s Marchwood training complex, with Saints pledging to plant 250 trees every time one of its academy players makes their first-team debut.

Last year alone saw more than 1,250 tonnes of the club's carbon emissions offset.

Reusable cups were introduced on matchdays in a bid to reduce single-use plastic at the club, with around 57,000 cups saved last year.

The club spent £2.5m on improving accessibility and matchday experience as well as launching an anti-homophobia initiative in conjunction with kit supplier hummel and Rainbow Saints, an LGBTQ+ supporter group.

It also launched the Saints By Your Side campaign, which aims to encourage fans to talk openly about mental health.

In other moves the First Team joined forces with Virgin Media to deliver a streamed PE lesson to more than 400 UK schools during lockdown, while the Grow Your Game programme was devised to support the development of grass roots football across Hampshire.

The club also donated £10,000 to Southampton City Council’s Christmas Toy Appeal, with colleagues helping to deliver presents.

David Thomas, Saints' chief commercial officer, said: “We've been working hard over the past year to become a better and more sustainable club by cutting carbon, improving biodiversity and supporting equality.

"We now have other clubs coming to us to learn from our experiences and successes.

“We have the people, expertise and resources to really help become part of the solution to tackling both local and global challenges and our Halo Effect commitments are just the start of how we can positively impact our local community and the wider environment.”

Midfielder Oriol Romeu added: "I’m delighted to see the progress the club has made.

"Planting so many trees and reducing single-use plastic are really positive steps and show how seriously the club takes its environmental responsibility.

"I’m proud my club is taking this proactive attitude towards positive change and constantly working to become more sustainable."