Thank you all for joining us for this afternoon’s Sky Bet League One fixture at Fratton Park. A very warm welcome to those who have travelled south from Blackpool and particularly to Owen Dale, who returns for the first time after his loan here last season.
Our opponents played last weekend, but international call-ups mean it is a fortnight since we were last engaged in competitive first team action in that pulsating match with Charlton. We would like to thank you for your contribution that Armistice Day afternoon towards a most respectful and dignified minute silence, remembering all those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We are grateful, too, to those who organised and played their part in the tribute. It was a most special and moving occasion.
We congratulate Kusini Yengi, who made his full competitive debut for Australia last week and also Terry Devlin, who was initially promoted to the full Northern Ireland squad before then starting for the U21s against England. Joe Morrell returned to the Wales squad and was on the bench for games with Armenia and Turkey. We are thrilled for them all, but nevertheless relieved to have them back with us today.
After the final whistle against Charlton, John Mousinho revealed the distressing news that Regan Poole had suffered an ACL injury at Chesterfield. We are devastated for Regan and wish him well with his post-op rehabilitation. I know he will be well cared for by Steve Hard and the medical team on his road to recovery. On a more positive note, we are delighted to welcome Josh Martin to the club on an initial short-term contract until mid-January. Josh had already spent some weeks training with the first team and his arrival will provide us with extra squad depth.
We are delighted to today be opening the refurbished Milton End to Pompey fans for the first time this season. We were hoping to fully open the stand in mid-December, but the wet weather has delayed the installation of the elevator by a month. However, all the other work remains on schedule and on Wednesday, we were able to put on sale a further 1,000 home tickets in the stand to join the expected 750 supporters from Blackpool.
If all goes well, then we can put more Milton End tickets on sale for the Bolton and Fleetwood fixtures. Initially, these tickets will be in the northern section of the stand, but when the stand is complete, home supporters will be housed in the southern section. This will enable the maximisation of all available seats in the stadium. The proximity of the Milton End’s most southernmost block to the South Stand does mean we would be obliged to take this block off sale permanently if away supporters were located in that section.
The availability of rail seats to home supporters in the Milton End meant that on Thursday, we were able to announce the sale of 500 part-season tickets. These commence from the Northampton game on February 3 and include the final nine home matches of the season. We have prioritised sales to those season ticket holders who wish to relocate from existing seats to rail seats and to those in the Fratton End rail seats who wish to move to other areas. Members will then have an opportunity to upgrade before the remaining tickets go on general sale next week.
The festive season is getting into full swing and this year we are delighted to announce a special Pompey Christmas Quiz Night. This takes place in the Victory Lounge from 6pm on Tuesday, December 19 with members of the men’s and women’s squads joining teams of supporters. The evening includes a one-course meal and a Q&A session with head coaches John Mousinho and Jay Sadler, as well as selected players. The event is priced at just £50 per person or £275 for a table of six. You can book your place by calling 0345 646 1898 (option 2), by emailing email@example.com or via the hospitality tab on the eticketing website.
Today we recognise International Men’s Day and this year's theme of ‘Zero Male Suicide’, acknowledging the importance of addressing mental health concerns, especially among men, and promoting a proactive stance to encourage open conversations. We have, throughout the week, spotlighted different themes linked to the positive contributions made by males associated with Portsmouth FC, including John Jenkins, Alan Knight and Lindy Delapenha. In addition, several members of the men’s first team are actively participating in Movember, a global movement dedicated to raising awareness about men’s mental health, testicular cancer and prostate cancer, and aiming to raise more than £1,000 for men’s research and suicide prevention charities. Our key message is to encourage anyone struggling with mental health challenges to reach out for help. You can find in this programme and on our website, essential contact information for organisations that specialise in mental health support.
Pompey Women are back in FA Cup action at Ebbsfleet tomorrow following their outstanding 9-1 victory at Fulham in the last round. We wish them well as they bid for a place in the third round, when Championship clubs enter the competition.
We are back on the road at Burton on Tuesday and then head to Northampton next Saturday for a fixture rescheduled from October. If you are travelling by car to Northampton, then please be aware that the northern section of the A43, just before the M1 intersection, will be closed that weekend, so do allow a little more time.
Thank you for your support today and enjoy the game. PUP!