A warm welcome to everyone, including those who have travelled from Derby for a special Friday evening televised Sky Bet League One fixture here at Fratton Park
The Premier League and Championship will be shutting down, alongside Europe’s top divisions, over the next few weeks, providing League One with the perfect opportunity to shine before a national audience and showcasing the bright playing talent that we all know exists at this level.
We have another sell-out crowd tonight, with Derby taking up close to their full allocation in the Milton End. Supporters will see that work has now commenced in the two blocks to the south of that stand. The development, which will be completed in autumn 2023, will see the stand capacity increased to 3,100, with greater segregation opportunities for home supporters whenever visiting clubs do not take up their full allocation.
The stand, which prior to development could accommodate a maximum of 1,900 supporters under safety restrictions, will see improved catering facilities, new toilet blocks, better access and egress, creating a far safer and more pleasant experience to watch live football. Crucially, disabled away fans, including those in wheelchairs, will be able to sit in the dry and with their own supporters. Two new lifts will be created towards the north side of the stand, with one also serving home supporters in wheelchairs to sit on the mid-terrace area of the North Stand. This feature will I know be welcomed by visiting fans across the EFL and is long overdue at our stadium.
The development does mean that the Milton End will be restricted for the remainder of the campaign to only one block of turnstile entrances and one set of male and female toilets. This regrettably means that we will be unable to admit any home supporters into the stand, whatever the visiting numbers.
The completion of the Milton End works will conclude this particular phase of the stadium redevelopment. The North and South Stands are now fully open and functioning well, with a significant increase in capacity, extra bars and kiosks. These, complemented by the new Fanzone, are already delivering significant increased revenue. We are grateful to you all for supporting the club with additional matchday spend, acknowledging these are testing times for everyone.
With the half-season ticket campaign off to a successful start and total season ticket sales now well over 14,000, there will be limited opportunities to promote new ticketing initiatives for our remaining home fixtures. That is why we were keen to use the opportunity provided by the Emirates FA Cup second round tie against MK Dons next Saturday to attract some new faces with appealing ticket prices. Children accompanied by an adult can attend the match for just £1, with adult tickets only £12 if purchased prior to matchday and rising to £14 on the day.
We are also working with our ticketing partner, Ticketmaster, to reintroduce the ticket exchange used in previous seasons at Fratton Park. This provides season ticket holders unable to attend a particular League One fixture with the opportunity to sell their seat back to the club, which if resold will result in a £5 supporter credit. This creates a win-win for everyone, meaning the seat does not stay empty and can be used by another fan. We should have everything in place for the MK Dons league fixture on December 17.
With the World Cup starting this weekend, everyone connected with the club would like to congratulate Joe Morrell, sending him our very best wishes for a successful tournament. Those of us born in England may slightly temper that sentiment for one game! It is a proud moment – not just for Joe, who fulfils the lifetime dream of every player to feature at the World Cup, but also for Portsmouth Football Club, with one of our players represented there.
Our catering partners, Piglets Pantry, will be opening up the Victory Bar for supporters to come together to watch England’s fixtures, starting against Iran on Monday, kick-off 1pm, and for the two 7pm kick-offs against USA on Friday, November 25 and Wales on Tuesday, November 29. Tickets should be purchased in advance for £2.50, with details on the club website and all proceeds donated to the John Jenkins Stadium appeal.
Finally, many of you may have seen the outstanding TV documentary featuring Zesh Rehman, our lead professional development phase coach. The programme has been aired throughout the past week on Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon. It charts Zesh’s achievements, from becoming the first British-born Asian to play in the Premier League, right through to his arrival at Pompey. The producers, Premier League Productions, have exclusively sold the rights to these three channels, meaning we cannot yet show this on our own platforms, but you can access the 30-minute documentary via each broadcaster’s catch-up channel.
I would like to end by saying a massive thank you to all those who travelled to Hereford and Morecambe. Once again, the support, the volume of noise and your encouragement, especially after falling a goal behind in both fixtures, made a huge difference. We are fortunate to have such incredible backing. We should never underestimate the part you play – and we hope that tonight we can reward you all with both an entertaining game and three valuable points. Enjoy the game and PUP!