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Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Wycombe Programme Notes

Read the thoughts of Pompey's CEO

3 October 2023

Andrew Cullen
Fixture News

Andrew Cullen's Wycombe Programme Notes

Read the thoughts of Pompey's CEO

3 October 2023

Thank you all for attending this evening’s Sky Bet League One fixture against Wycombe Wanderers. We are pleased to welcome everyone who has made the journey from Buckinghamshire and we wish you all a safe trip home.

Tonight brings together two of the division’s in-form teams. Our opponents have won four of their past five league fixtures, while victory at Wigan on Saturday extended our unbeaten start to the season. We were delighted to have achieved a healthy return of points from a challenging September schedule. October fixtures will also provide a stern test as we take on a number of teams playing well at the moment, starting now and continuing when we welcome Port Vale, sitting inside the play-off spaces, at the weekend.

That win at the DW Stadium again demonstrated the resilience that exists throughout our team. For the second consecutive match, we fought from behind to come out on top. The strength of vocal, passionate encouragement from our own supporters after conceding first cannot be underestimated. This contributed to providing the players with the belief and confidence to go on to triumph in both games. It is simply fantastic that we have such an abundant spirit of togetherness.

The depth in the squad has already been illustrated, with players seamlessly stepping in for those suspended or injured. In addition, Zak Swanson was absent for the contests with Barnsley and Lincoln for compassionate reasons. We all extended our sincere condolences to him and his family – family is more important than anything and the Pompey family very much have Zak in all our thoughts.

There were two significant events that took place last week. On Wednesday, the club hosted the latest matchday experience working group, with a broad cross-section of supporters in attendance. The purpose of this group, now established for just over a year, is for club staff to collaboratively work with fans to create and improve a matchday experience that everyone can look forward to.
There have been some very early ‘quick wins’, including the development of the FanZone behind the Fratton End, the new half-time priority kiosk token service in the North Stand, the new merchandising units in both the east entrance to the South Stand and the FanZone, and the post-match surveys which enable the club executive to immediately focus on areas of concern and new opportunities.

Further enhancements to the FanZone were discussed, as well as thoughts on how to ease half-time congestion in the North Stand. There was an update on the new PA system, which has experienced some teething issues, but which we feel confident will be resolved soon as we move from an analogue to a digital system. One of the key areas under discussion was the platform walkway between the North Lower and Upper. There has been a growing tendency for supporters exiting seats just prior to half-time, and especially towards the end of the match, to stop, stand and watch the game from this area. This means that those sitting in the front rows of the North Upper are having their views obstructed, causing much frustration. The stewards are doing their best to encourage fans to keep moving and we have created some additional signage. However, this is an area where we need everyone’s support if exiting early, so as not to spoil the enjoyment of fellow supporters. Some other initiatives to help resolve this issue were identified and discussed by the group and we hope these will lead to some improvement over the next few weeks.

On Thursday, I attended an EFL club meeting in Derby, where the principal topic on the agenda was an update regarding the ongoing discussions with the Premier League to deliver a better financial distribution model throughout the pyramid. This is a key matter included in the football white paper, which urges football authorities to deliver their own solution on this issue. If one cannot be found, then the new independent football regulator will have backstop powers to intervene.

Nothing has yet been formally put to clubs by the Premier league or EFL, but we were given information on the structure of a potential future financial arrangement. An appraisal of conditions linked to future increased funding, including cost controls and distribution mechanics, was outlined, along with the football calendar and the impact of the proposed regulator, which proposes that each club will require a licence to operate based around its financial health. The EFL will next enter into consultation with all clubs in smaller groups to consider additional context and detail of the proposal, with a speedy and satisfactory conclusion sought to improve that financial health.

All of us at the club, the Pompey Supporters’ Trust and the Pompey History Society were thrilled with the reaction to the Jimmy Dickinson statue, which was unveiled prior to the Lincoln match. The detail and the likeness are incredible and, once again, congratulations to all who inspired the project and organised the fundraising, as well as all of you who made donations. The statue provides another legacy moment in our 125th anniversary year, which also sees the launch of the magnificent 424-page hardback book ‘The Official History – Portsmouth Football Club’ this week. The limited run of 1,898 copies has seen more than 1,000 already snapped up by early subscribers. The remainder went on sale yesterday, priced £40, and are available from the Pompey Store and selected independent booksellers in the city. Having been privileged to see a preview of the book, I would highly recommend it to any fan – especially with Christmas not too far away!

We are back at Fratton Park on Saturday for more League One action when we host Port Vale and then have a third consecutive home fixture next Tuesday, with the visit of Gillingham in the EFL Trophy.

Thank you all for your support this evening and enjoy the game. PUP!

Andrew Cullen
Chief Executive


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