EFL announce winners of the Grounds Team of the Season awardThe EFL has announced the winners of the Grounds Team of the Season award for 2016/17 in each of the three divisions.
The awards recognise the importance of the quality of pitches for professional football and acknowledge the clubs and their ground staff who consistently produce the best playing surfaces in the EFL.
In the Sky Bet Championship, Aston Villa win the award for producing a perfect pitch at Villa Park this season. Derby County and Newcastle United are both highly commended.
In Sky Bet League One, Sheffield United's ground staff followed the example of the club's playing squad, by picking up the divisional title for the excellent surface at Bramall Lane. Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic are highly commended.
The award for Grounds Team of the Season in Sky Bet League Two this year goes to Carlisle United, while the ground staff of promoted trio Doncaster Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth are all highly commended.
Sky Bet Championship
Winner: Aston Villa
Highly Commended: Derby County
Highly Commended: Newcastle United
Sky Bet League One
Winner: Sheffield United
Highly Commended: Bolton Wanderers
Highly Commended: Charlton Athletic
Sky Bet League Two
Winner: Carlisle United
Highly Commended: Doncaster Rovers
Highly Commended: Plymouth Argyle
Highly Commended: Portsmouth
United's chairman Andrew Jenkins said: "Our ground staff have built up an excellent reputation over a number of years and awards like this are recognition of their efforts and dedication.
"The playing surface is rightly regarded as the best in the division and this is a reflection of the many hours of work put in by a diligent, thorough and professional team.
"It came as no surprise to anyone that they won this award because it is thoroughly well deserved off the back of their attention to detail and the work they do on the main pitch, the training pitch and the pitches we use at Creighton Rugby Club.
"I'd like to say a huge well done to Dave Mitchell and his staff on behalf of everyone at the club."
The EFL's Grounds Team of the Season Awards are determined initially using marks from referees and away managers for each Sky Bet EFL game and are then followed by detailed pitch inspections and a review of management operations.
These visits were carried out by Dr Stephen Baker, Head of Sports Surface Technology at the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).