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Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Accrington Programme Notes

Read the thoughts of the CEO

22 April 2023

Andrew Cullen
Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Accrington Programme Notes

Read the thoughts of the CEO

22 April 2023

Welcome to this afternoon’s Sky Bet League One fixture with Accrington Stanley.

Thank you all for your attendance, including those who have made the journey from Lancashire to the south coast. Our opponents still have everything to play for, while we need nothing less than a win and then for results elsewhere to go our way in order to take matters into at least the penultimate game of the season at Pride Park next Saturday.

There is much disappointment throughout the club that consecutive draws from our past four matches meant we were not able to drive home the run of positive form experienced since January. We looked very much in control at MK Dons until a red card forced a changed in our shape and then we were unable to find a way to force victory here against Morecambe on Easter Monday. Following another stalemate at Shrewsbury, we could not secure the three much needed points on Tuesday against an Oxford side fighting relegation. Significantly, they were a couple of places above us in the table when we appointed John Mousinho in late January.

I think that statistic is representative of the progress that has been made from the somewhat precarious position we found ourselves in at the turn of the year. At that time, the first objective for a new head coach was to find a way to win football matches. It is to the credit of our coaching team and players that they managed to collectively work hard to deliver the club to a position where, going into the last six games of the season, there was a chance of reaching the play-offs. Nevertheless, we all share the frustration of the missed opportunity from these past four games and not turning draws into victories.

On a much more upbeat note, we are today privileged to mark the 10th anniversary of our fans saving Portsmouth FC, with a special Community Ownership Day that is part of our continuing 125th anniversary celebrations.

With the club’s very future in jeopardy in 2013, there was an unbelievable show of generosity from thousands of Pompey fans to become Supporters’ Trust shareholders by making £1,000 donations – either collectively or as part of syndicates, with some children even donating their pocket money. Allied to that were a number of high-net-worth individuals, who put in further significant sums. The first game under community ownership took place on April 20 in 2013, with a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United that was played amidst a party atmosphere, despite relegation having already been confirmed.

I was only looking in from the outside at the time, but even from my vantage point, it was remarkable to witness an amazing and massive collective effort. It is an achievement that is honoured to this day – and beyond – by the boards of named donators proudly erected at the back of the North Stand. Without them there would be no 125th anniversary of Portsmouth Football Club and we would not be watching a game this afternoon at Fratton Park.

We are pleased to have with us today the then club administrator, and now CEO of the EFL, Trevor Birch, who I know is held in high regard by so many in Portsmouth. We have also extended invitations to former club chairman Iain McInnes and ex-PST chairman Ashley Brown, along with former directors Mark Trapani and Mick Williams. Even more importantly, there will be many of you in attendance today who donated and never abandoned your football club in its darkest hour. It is a privilege to serve you all.

A week on Sunday – April 30 – we will be delighted to host Pompey Women at Fratton Park for their final game of the season against Crawley Wasps (2pm kick-off). The team have had an incredible campaign, taking the fight for promotion to the second tier right to the wire. They have captured the inspiration provided by last summer’s success by the Lionesses and can be rightly proud of their efforts. Tickets are priced at just £7 for adults (£5 for all our season ticket holders) and £4 for seniors (£3 for season ticket holders), while all under-18 tickets are just £1. Please join us and show your appreciation for their outstanding achievements.

This Sunday we are looking forward to the EFL Awards, taking place in London, with the club nominated in two categories. Abdul Khalique, who many of you will know from matchdays at the Fratton End/South Stand gates, has been shortlisted for the Club Employee award. Meanwhile, our undergraduate scholarship scheme with the University of Portsmouth has been shortlisted for the EFL Innovation award. Many congratulations to Abdul and all who have worked together with the University of Portsmouth. We look forward to hearing the results, but whatever the outcome, everyone can be proud that the club has been shortlisted.

Finally, today marks another date in our inclusion calendar, as we support Amnesty International UK’s ‘Football Welcomes’ initiative. We have donated 20 tickets to Portsmouth City of Sanctuary, who are a local award-winning grassroots humanitarian organisation, helping asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Portsmouth, Gosport and the surrounding areas. We hope they enjoy the day with us and will enjoy seeing our players warm-up in ‘Football Welcomes’ t-shirts.

Thank you once again for your incredible support and we look forward to seeing you here for the women’s game next weekend and then our final match of the season against Wycombe on Sunday, May 7.

Enjoy the game and PUP!

Andrew Cullen
CEO


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