New CEO Andrew Cullen helped MK Dons win football over - Portsmouth have landed a shrewd operator

MK Dons’ executive director, Andrew Cullen, arrives at Pompey next week as chief-executive Mark Catlin’s successor. We caught up with MK Citizen’s, Toby Lock, to find out what we can expect from the new man at the helm.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 4:56 am

Andy Cullen is a very good guy who’s got his head screwed on.

His time at Norwich was clearly well spent and then it’s been 12 years at MK Dons where he’s really helped the club to grow.

Andy came in when the club was still very young and were maybe a little naive in how they wanted to operate, so it was a case of trying to develop the football club in a town which has never really had one.

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For Andy to come in, settle the ship and give the club both direction and an understanding of the wider football world was massive.

He oversaw a better relationship with fans, but just gave the club purpose, stopped them being such a soft touch and really helped MK Dons win football over.

At times it felt that there was no room for negotiation, because we’re MK Dons and we have appease everybody. Andy provided more knowledge, more nous in the transfer market and gave the club more professionalism.

Andrew Cullen starts as Pompey chief executive on Tuesday (June 1)

There are still clubs that don’t particularly want to be seen to be doing business with MK Dons, Luton Town being one of them while there’s one in London we still haven’t really crossed paths with too much, but the relationships with most has been massively boosted by Andy and the fact he’s a shrewd negotiator.

For all the fact he’s a nice bloke, it’s also clear that he doesn’t suffer fools and put up with nonsense.

If the deal’s not good, the deal’s not good - and he will walk away from it. I’d say he’s definitely given MK Dons more backbone in that sense.

A lot of his successes have been managerial.

Getting Robbie Neilsen from Hearts was big at the time, given he was at a club who were second in the SPL.

It was a big coup, as was Paul Tisdale when he managed to convince a guy who was extraordinarily comfortable at Exeter to up sticks and move 200 miles to take on a job at a club which was a shambles back then.

The signing of Rhys Healey was one of the major deals over the past five years.

It looked for a long time that it wasn’t going to go ahead, because Cardiff were after big money with Neil Warnock knowing how much he was wanted.

Andy held his nerve, though, and said they’d wait for him to see his contract - and got him for peanuts in the end compared to what they wanted. That was down to Andy’s stern nerve and the fact he was happy to walk off.

Andy has been the conduit between club and fans and is very approachable, he’s happy to chat with people - and that will be missed.

He’s also been on the EFL board and part of working groups, which has helped the clubs standing in the game.

People are a little worried about transfer dealings here this summer, because he was so influential.

When he arrived people were thinking who’s this team’s who’s rocked up on our doorstep - and why have we given them a 30,000-seat stadium?

They’ve gone from ‘that franchise’ to an established club in the league who people don’t look down their noses at anymore. They are part of that fabric which is massive - and Andy’s been a huge part of that.

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