Apologetic Portsmouth CEO Andy Cullen 'hugely upset' by Fratton Park ticketing issues as he vows to deliver top match-day experience for fans
Chief executive Andy Cullen has apologised to Pompey fans who experienced problems gaining entry into Fratton Park for Saturday’s fixture against Cambridge United.
And he stressed making the match-day experience for all supporters is at the top of his priority list as he vowed to eradicate the problems encountered by many Blues followers prior to kick-off.
Large queues were evident ahead of the U’s game, as fans faced delays gaining access into the ground from 2.40pm onwards.
That resulted in a large number of supporters missing part of the first half of a game Pompey eventually went on to lose 2-1.
A statement released by the Blues on Sunday morning apologised for the difficulties experienced at the turnstiles, with new technology installed at all entry points causing confusion.
The match was also the first time Blues fans were able to use their new 2021-22 season ticket cards to secure entry into Fratton Park.
Yet in his programme notes ahead of Tuesday night’s home game against Plymouth, CEO Cullen has felt the need to address the problems personally.
He said he was ‘hugely upset’ at the problems encountered and admitted more should have been done to notify spectators of changes with the use of signage at the ground and better communications.
Cullen added he would set up a supporter working group to test any new additional stadium technology prior to launch as he reaffirmed his commitment to delivering a top experience every time fans came to Fratton Park.
The chief executive said: ‘I am acutely aware of the problems some supporters encountered entering the stadium on Saturday.
‘I was on hand to witness everything throughout the afternoon.
‘I was hugely upset and I do very much want to apologise to those affected.
‘Improving the whole match-day experience for supporters has been top of the agenda at my previous two clubs and is a key priority at Pompey.
‘I am taking stock from my first three match-days, personally observing how things work around the stadium, and take feedback from different supporters.
‘I am committed to delivering a top experience every time you come to Fratton Park to support your football club, spending your hard-earned money.
‘The post-match investigation into Saturday’s queues showed they were caused by confusion over the use of season cards on entry, with many cards inserted into the former readers rather than waved against the scanner.
‘The readers naturally rejected the cards and doubled entry times while they were correctly scanned.
‘We had worked hard over the past few weeks to avoid the problems experienced at other clubs at the start of this season, especially in terms of ensuring tickets were delivered on time, using an external mailing house and testing the connectivity well in advance, which all worked well on the day.
‘I am hugely sorry that we overlooked the provision of signage at and around the turnstiles to properly inform supporters of the new changes and communicating that with the delivery of the card.
‘We should have done much better and signage is something we will remedy prior to the Sunderland game, although we hope most will have familiarised themselves with the process next time round.’
Further in his programme notes, which can be seen online, Cullen said that plans were also in place to improve kiosk operations within Fratton Park, with the club finalising a contract with a new partner to professionally manage and operate all outlets.
And signing off, he said it was important that fans saw firm commitment and leadership in delivering a better PO4 experience.
He said: ‘I hope this background is helpful.
‘I don’t want to dodge any issue of concern to supporters and am equally grateful for so many words of encouragement, as we seek to deliver a better service amidst the stadium redevelopment programme and the quicker-than-expected, but welcome, return to full crowds.
‘What is important is that you see firm commitment and leadership from me to improve matters and I will do my very best to deliver this for you.’