The Football League has announced the winners of the Groundsman of the Year Award for Season 2013/14 in each division.

The awards were set up to recognise the importance of the quality of pitches for professional football and acknowledge the head groundsmen and their staff who produce the best playing surfaces.

Though this season has been mild, exceptionally high winter rainfall experienced throughout the country provided a challenge for grounds staff at clubs.

In the Championship, Middlesbrough's Tony Bell was named the best groundsman while Bolton Wanderers' Richard Norton was highly commended for a second successive year. Dave Butler of Queens Park Rangers was also highly commended.

League 1's best groundsman award was given to Preston North End's Peter Ashworth for his work at Deepdale.

Craig Richardson and David Fellowes, of Bristol City and Rotherham United respectively, were highly commended for the award. Fellowes' commendation was also his second in as many years.

League 2's top prize was handed to Fleetwood Town's Dale Frith. Hartlepool United's David Brown and Plymouth Argyle's Billy White were highly commended.

Championship

Winner: Tony Bell (Middlesbrough)
Highly Commended: Richard Norton (Bolton Wanderers)
Highly Commended: Dave Butler (Queens Park Rangers)

The Riverside

League 1

Winner: Peter Ashworth (Preston North End)
Highly Commended: Craig Richardson (Bristol City)
Highly Commended: David Fellowes (Rotherham United)

League 2

Winner: Dale Frith (Fleetwood Town)
Highly Commended: David Brown (Hartlepool United)
Highly Commended: Billy White (Plymouth Argyle)

Highbury Stadium

The Football League's Groundsman of the Year Awards are determined initially using marks from referees and away managers for each Sky Bet Football League game and are then followed by detailed pitch inspections and a review of management operations. These visits were carried out in April by Dr Stephen Baker, Head of Sports Surface Technology at the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).