SAINTS chairman Rupert Lowe has agreed to open Eastleigh Football Club's new stand on Thursday, August 5.

The ceremony will be followed by a mouthwatering pre-season friendly (7.45pm) pitting Paul Sturrock's first-team squad against the area's most up-and-coming non-League club.

There will be 3,000 tickets available for the all-ticket fixture, priced £6 right across the board.

They will go on sale shortly at both St Mary's and Eastleigh's Sparshatts Stadium.

Eastleigh manager Paul Doswell is a confirmed Saints fanatic who was first introduced to Lowe through his solicitor Ian Gordon, a director at St Mary's.

The Saints chairman has been very supportive of Eastleigh's meteoric rise up the football pyramid which has brought successive promotions from the Wessex League and Dr Martens Eastern Division into the Isthmian Premier Division next season.

Eastleigh have a stack of ex-Saints players. Former Dell defender Mark Dennis is their director of football, Welsh midfielder David Hughes doubles up as player and assistant manager and even Matt Le Tissier has pulled on an Eastleigh shirt.

Ex-Saints such as Nicky Banger, Christer Warren and Phil Warner have also appeared.

Doswell said: "I wrote to Rupert Lowe inviting him to open our new stand and he replied within a week saying he would be delighted to. He knows David Hughes very well and always looks for our results and wants us to do well."

Work at the Eastleigh ground is moving on a pace. The old stand has been moved behind the far-end goal and foundations for the new stand are being put in.

The area behind the goal at the clubhouse end has been tarmacked over, creating 250 car parking spaces, and there will be a further 100 spaces created once the new stand is finished.

Eastleigh's pre-season programme kicks off at home to Aldershot Town on Saturday, July 24 (3pm) and they host AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday, July 27 (7.45pm). Winchester City visit on Sunday, August 1 (3pm).