Thank you for being with us for this afternoon’s Sky Bet League One fixture against Northampton Town. A warm welcome to our visitors, who have established a strong position in the league after winning promotion last season. We trust everyone has a safe journey back home from the south coast.
After three successive away matches and a positive return of seven points, we are all looking forward to being back at Fratton Park today. We also are thrilled to welcome all our new half-season ticket holders, whose package of games commences from today.
Thank you to everyone who made the long trips to Fleetwood and Port Vale, as well as the shorter midweek journey to Oxford. Once again, we are humbled by such dedication, which is massively appreciated by us all and genuinely played an important part in contributing towards an immediate bounce back following the disappointing result against Leyton Orient.
Aside from these matches, the week has been dominated by our transfer activity. We are excited to welcome Callum Lang, Tom McIntyre and Owen Moxon to Fratton Park, with transfer fees invested in all three players. That welcome is also extended to Myles Peart-Harris, who has joined us on loan from Brentford, and Matt Macey, who has returned to the club. On top of these incomings, we have also been pleased to secure the contract of Josh Martin for the remainder of this season.
The overriding objective from any transfer window is to try to emerge stronger at its closure. I have always maintained that its success can only be determined at the end of the season – however, we have done our best to identify and invest in talent not only aligned to our long-term recruitment strategy, but also with the capability to make an instant impact over the remainder of the campaign. Our record so far in 2023/24 has created a great opportunity and it was important that we added both quality and depth to the squad to drive us forward over the final third. None of this would have been possible without the continued backing of the board and I am grateful to Michael Eisner and his family for their support and confidence in providing us with the resources to positively impact this window.
I must also pay tribute to Phil Boardman, Rich Hughes, Tony Brown and John Mousinho and his coaches for their individual and collective roles in this latest recruitment process, identifying and assessing players; articulating the long-term plan and ambition of the club to our targets; and concluding deals with players, their agents and clubs. All of them have dedicated so many long hours over the past few weeks and I am proud to work with colleagues who have a single-minded determination to bring success to Portsmouth Football Club.
Away from playing matters, today marks Green Football Weekend – a campaign focused on promoting sustainable practices within sport. The heart of this initiative lies in the ‘Greener Game’ football matches and competitive activities between clubs to score green goals. But for Pompey, it doesn’t stop there. The club, in collaboration with its partners and Pompey in the Community, are committed to going beyond the weekend event to deliver a strategy to make us an active and environmentally sustainable organisation.
The first stage is to understand exactly where we are in terms of our current carbon footprint. We can then determine the target and the goals we need to work towards, so we can genuinely deliver significant improvements over the medium and longer-term to positively impact climate change across our whole community. There are several initiatives already underway. These include the installation of energy efficient and sensor-equipped LED lighting around the ground and the ongoing efforts to establish a safe rail bridge and improve access to Fratton Park to increase the use of train services – our 2023 supporter travel survey demonstrated that if we can encourage greater matchday train usage from the current 18 per cent to 32 per cent, then we would see a 24 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions to and from the ground.
Our caterers, Piglet’s Pantry, are committed to eliminating plastics, with all boxes and packaging being recyclable or made from recycled materials and the introduction of self-destructing biodegradable cups to combat plastic pollution. In addition, we are introducing a greater range of vegetarian and vegan options, while all leftover food items on matchdays are shared with staff and donated to local food banks or homeless shelters.
Elsewhere, we are seeking to decrease matchday paper usage by 71 per cent through digital alternatives and the automation of required documents and QR code menus. There will be much more to follow and we would encourage all of you to ‘score green goals’ for Pompey this weekend by following the link on our website.
I would like to congratulate our under-18 academy side for reaching the national final of the Youth Alliance Cup, winning 2-1 at Plymouth last Saturday. Pompey Women then completed a great weekend for the club, while continuing their own fantastic form, by reaching the semi-finals of the National League Cup, with an extra-time victory at Ipswich the following day. This has sealed a trip to Newcastle in the last four, to be played later this month.
Thank you for your support today. We hope to see you back here on Tuesday, February 13 for another home league game, this time against Cambridge. I also look forward to meeting the Northern Blues for their annual fans’ forum at Carlisle next Saturday.
Enjoy the game and PUP!