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Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Ipswich Programme Notes

CEO addresses upcoming stadium works

19 October 2021

Andrew Cullen

Thank you for joining us for this evening’s Sky Bet League One fixture against Ipswich Town. I would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone who has made the long midweek journey from Suffolk and especially to Paul Cook, our former manager. Paul will always be reserved a special place in Pompey history after guiding the club to promotion in 2017.

We are also extremely proud to host our local Tokyo 2020 Olympic medallists – Lauren Steadman (Paralympic gold in paratriathlon), Eilidh McIntyre (Olympic gold in sailing) and Declan Brooks (Olympic bronze in BMX). Their achievements and dedication are an inspiration to us all, so please give them a rousing reception at half-time.

Both Pompey and Ipswich find themselves competing with naturally high expectations to succeed, but having overhauled our respective squads in the summer, are finding a consistent run of results difficult to deliver. From our own perspective, we had an outstanding result in the last home league match against top-of-the-table Sunderland. It was a terrific performance, played in atrocious conditions, but one where the players displayed passion, control and intelligence. That made Saturday’s result at Rotherham all the more disappointing. We had good control of the game for the first 55 minutes, but failed to respond after conceding a second goal and then two more over a seven-minute spell.

Each fixture, every setback, each reverse, provides an opportunity to reflect, learn and rebuild, so we are all pleased to have an opportunity to go again so quickly. The Sunderland display certainly confirmed there is an abundance of desire, talent and energy among this group of players, which can be channelled over the course of a long season to realise the success we are all determined to achieve.

Over the past couple of weeks, many supporters will have read an excellent series of articles from Neil Allen in the Portsmouth News, talking to Steve Cripps from PMC, regarding the ongoing redevelopment of Fratton Park and the schedule of the forthcoming programme of works. This was also something that Michael and Eric Eisner were able to outline further and rationalise last Thursday in a two-hour meeting with representatives from the Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference.

The next stage of Michael’s £11.5 million investment will see improvements to the North Lower from January and then in the summer, work will commence on reprofiling and improving the South Stand. A major overhaul of the Milton End then follows in 2023. The end result will see capacity restored to just above 20,000, but there is still scope to develop the North Stand to increase the capacity further to 30,000 or just beyond. For that to happen, there needs to be some improvements to infrastructure around the stadium and we were delighted to read that this is clearly under consideration in the Portsmouth City Council Local Plan, which is currently out for consultation. Comments from the public are invited prior to October 31. We would encourage supporters to read this and would be grateful for support for the proposals for the area around Fratton Park, via the consultation invitation on the PCC website.

Tomorrow, we will hold the first of two working group meetings with season ticket holders from the North Lower. These are designed to work through plans for the relocation of seats from January, when this part of the stadium will be redeveloped. We will also discuss and explore how seats can be selected in the new profiled areas, which will hold more capacity, and then how we can best communicate everything in a clear and timely manner between now and Christmas to all those who will be affected. I am really looking forward to these meetings, which I genuinely believe will deliver some good solutions to extremely difficult challenges. We will do our best to keep you all regularly updated over the forthcoming weeks.

Finally, you may have seen or heard about the collaboration between the club, Portsmouth City Council and local poet Majid Dhana. We have all worked together to produce a video, using Majid’s poem ‘Illuminated Voices’. This has been launched after a period of a national rise in hate crime incidents, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Danny Cowley, Pompey players, our staff and supporters were all delighted to be filmed, speaking the words of the poem around different locations in the city, which we hope will play a big part in delivering a strong message and bringing together all the different communities in and around Portsmouth.

The club have already sent out a big message and a zero-tolerance policy towards hatred and intolerance this year. Majid expresses everything well in his own words: “We can support each other by illuminating the voices of love and tolerance which will drown out the haters. We are on the same team – together we will win.” We will be showing the video on the big screen prior to home games, while you can also watch on our social media channels, on Portsmouth City Council’s YouTube channel and at portsmouth.gov.uk/blackhistorymonth

Thank you once again for attending Fratton Park this evening. We hope you enjoy the game and that we can provide you with another special night to remember. PUP!

Andrew Cullen
CEO


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