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Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Sheffield Wednesday Programme Notes

Read the thoughts of the CEO

11 March 2023

Andrew Cullen
Photo: Jason Brown/Pro Sports Images
Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Sheffield Wednesday Programme Notes

Read the thoughts of the CEO

11 March 2023

Thank you for attending this afternoon’s sold out Sky Bet League One fixture at Fratton Park and a warm welcome to our visitors Sheffield Wednesday, who are in great form and currently top the division.

I would also like to mark our gratitude to everyone who travelled in midweek to support the team at Barnsley. Incredibly, more than 1,200 of you made the long journey in freezing conditions and that commitment is so much appreciated by us all. Unfortunately, our recent unbeaten run – with a return of 13 points from the preceding five games – came to an end at Oakwell against a good Barnsley team and we can have no complaints about the result. We would also like to thank those who supported us at Cambridge last Saturday, where our away allocation was once again sold out. Today represents a perfect opportunity to bounce back with another strong performance to build on the excellent, passionate and exciting past two home games against Cheltenham and Bolton.

Our preparations for last Saturday’s match were unfortunately impacted by the upsetting news that Ronan Curtis had ruptured his ACL during the Bolton fixture. This is devastating for Ronan, who has been in excellent form, and we will fully support his long rehabilitation back to full fitness. In better news, it was great to see Tom Lowery make his comeback from his own long injury layoff at the Abbey Stadium and then start on Tuesday evening.

Many of you will have seen that work continues to progress at pace in the Milton End and the development of the south third of the stand is nearly complete. We are hopeful that we might be able to open this section to home supporters for the fixtures in April with Forest Green, Morecambe and Accrington, where demand for away tickets can probably be fully accommodated in the north section of the Milton End.

The stand is being fitted with rail seating, which is already evident from the current works. New government legislation now permits standing at football grounds, subject to clubs being granted a licence by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA). There are several conditions clubs must meet in order to be granted a licence. These are based around design, safety management, sightlines, operational and management considerations.

Among the licence conditions are a requirement that rail seating must be available in both home and away areas, while fans must be able to both sit down or stand in these areas. The seats must not be locked down and there has to be one seat allocated to each person. This means that although the rail seats are being installed in the Milton End, these areas will not be licensed for standing until such time as rail seats are installed in home sections of the ground. It made sense for us to install now, though, so as to future-proof the Milton End, which does have persistent standing issues, rather than have to throw away newly installed seats in a very short period of time. Rail seats are far more expensive than traditional seats, so we have to be extremely prudent as to how we manage this process.

Accordingly, the next stage will be for the club to continue discussions with the SGSA to explore how we might extend rail seating further in the stadium and then begin a consultation process with affected supporters in areas where safe standing might come under consideration. As a club, we welcome the return of standing in a controlled fashion, which will further protect safety for all supporters and provide a much improved experience for everyone.

We have recently received a couple of provisional international call-ups. Three full call-ups are required for teams in the EFL to request a postponement, so we currently remain one player short. This means our fixture with Port Vale on March 25 remains as scheduled, although a further call-up – or three from Port Vale – will put the fixture at risk of being rearranged. Please do keep an eye on the club website and our social media channels for further updates.

The club are supporting the ‘Her Game Too’ initiative at this afternoon’s game. They do such fantastic work to ensure that female football supporters are welcome at grounds and it’s only right that we all recognise this. Many members of our talented Pompey Women squad are here today and we’re delighted to confirm that their final match of the season, against Crawley Wasps, will be held here at Fratton Park on Sunday, April 30. I’m sure that many of you will be here to cheer them on.

There is another long trip north on Tuesday for the rearranged fixture with Accrington before we make the journey to Bristol Rovers on Saturday, with another sold out away following. Thank you once again for your incredible support and enjoy the game. PUP!

Andrew Cullen
CEO


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