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Club News

Statement From Andrew Cullen

Chief executive's appeal following unsavoury incidents at last home match

31 August 2022

Fratton Park
Club News

Statement From Andrew Cullen

Chief executive's appeal following unsavoury incidents at last home match

31 August 2022

On behalf of everyone at Portsmouth Football Club – the players, Danny and his staff, along with all of us in our different roles – I thank you all for your tremendous support which has so significantly contributed to our good start to the season.

Away from home, you have supported the team in outstanding numbers, epitomised by 2,135 Pompey fans travelling to Sheffield Wednesday, 1,685 to Port Vale last Saturday on a bank holiday weekend and then 1,111 making the trip to Crawley for a Papa John’s Trophy match last Tuesday.

Our last home fixture against Bristol Rovers was at capacity and Saturday’s fixture against Peterborough United is also set to be sold out in the home areas. We are incredibly fortunate to have increased sales of season ticket sales, now at over 13,000. We will shortly launch a limited number of new 19-game season tickets following the completion of all the necessary seat moves, in the South Stand and North Lower, by existing season ticket holders.

We are all humbled by your fantastic support, especially in the face of such challenging economic circumstances for supporters and the special spirit of togetherness among players, staff and supporters has contributed to the good start to the new season.

Unfortunately, I do have to report and comment on some isolated incidents arising from our recent games, where objects have been thrown by spectators onto the pitch.

At the start of this season, football unveiled a new campaign – ‘Love Football. Protect the Game’ – following some unsavoury behaviour at other grounds at the conclusion of last season, which had jeopardised the safety of players and match officials after encroachment on to the pitch, resulting in assaults on players.

Along with every professional football club, we are determined to play our part in protecting all players and match officials in performing their jobs. The Premier League, EFL and all clubs are united to ensure that anyone either encroaching onto the pitch or engaged in throwing missiles, both serious breaches of ground regulations, will be subject to an automatic club ban, as well as potential prosecution and a potential criminal record.

Regrettably at the Bristol Rovers home fixture, there were two incidents where objects were thrown from the stands. In the first half, plastic drinks bottles were thrown on to the pitch from the away section, aimed at players and home supporters. In the second half, the match referee was struck by a coin thrown from ‘Block FAA’ of the Fratton End. We offered our sincere apologies to the referee immediately after the game. Both these incidents are currently under investigation together with The FA.

We have been able to identify the individual responsible for throwing the plastic bottles using CCTV camera footage and that matter is being dealt with by the police, with details passed to the away club.

A coin striking the match referee, or indeed any individual on the field of play, is extremely serious, with consequences for the victim, the perpetrator and the club. Such behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and cannot – and will not – be tolerated. Given the range of sanctions at The FA’s disposal, repeated incidents could also impact on innocent supporters, with restrictions placed on future ground capacity, especially in stands identified as problem areas.

We would therefore appeal to anyone who may have witnessed the incident, which took place in the 73rd minute when the referee was issuing yellow cards in front of the Fratton End, to contact the club directly on 0345 646 1898. We will treat any report in absolute confidence and with guaranteed anonymity. We would also remind all supporters that they can report any anti-social behaviour at a game in confidence on the matchday text line: 07500 778844.

Portsmouth Football Club will do all we can to ensure that players, match officials, staff and supporters have the confidence to feel safe at all football matches at Fratton Park and from Saturday, we will be increasing our CCTV coverage in all areas of the ground.

We will not let the actions of any lone individual spoil, affect or jeopardise the enjoyment of all our supporters, who have contributed so much to this football club.

I know that the vast majority of supporters will join with us in this and most of you will also want to continue to make Fratton Park a loud and passionate stadium, as well as a special and safe venue to play, officiate and watch football.

Thank you very much for your support which is appreciated by every one of us.

Andrew Cullen

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