Portsmouth admit financial 'pain' as money-spinning sold-out Fratton Park clash with Oxford United scrapped through Covid concerns

Andy Cullen admits postponement of Pompey’s sold-out Boxing Day clash with Oxford United inflicts financial ‘pain’.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 4:55 am

The Blues have been left reeling after losing three matches due to the coronavirus outbreak which has ripped through their dressing room.

Last Saturday’s trip to AFC Wimbledon and Tuesday night’s Papa John’s Trophy encounter at Exeter were scrapped over Covid.

Now their money-spinning Boxing Day game at Fratton Park has suffered the same fate.

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It represents a huge blow to Pompey finances, with the midweek rescheduling expected to attract a smaller crowd, while ground capacity will be reduced by 1,300 from January 8.

And it adds up to missing out on a significant windfall this time of year usually presents.

Pompey chief executive Andy Cullen told The News: ‘Boxing Day was a sell-out, so not playing it on that day financially hurts us.

‘For supporters, it’s one of those games you always look for when fixtures come out, so it’s disappointing to lose the match, but you have to do the right thing.

Fratton Park was earmarked for a sell-out against Oxford United, but the Boxing Day match has now been postponed. Picture:Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

‘The game’s a sell-out – in the hospitality area and in the stands – while Oxford were bringing a fair number. If you switch it to a Tuesday night then obviously you’re not going to get those sort of numbers.

‘The other factor is Fratton Park’s capacity reduces from January 8, because of the North Stand Lower works, so we’re back down to 16,200.

‘The capacity is presently 17,500, so that’s a drop of 1,300 – but we wouldn’t get that on a Tuesday night anyway.

‘You put your budgets together for the year and we would have based it on a decent figure coming in on Boxing Day, so it carries some pain from losing the game.

‘Although you could lose it to weather – such as a frozen pitch – and be in the same situation.’

Cullen is braced for another complication following the match’s cancellation.

Namely the need to relocate those with tickets from the original Oxford fixture at a time when season-tickets holders need to rehousing.

He added: ‘It gives me another headache, because season-ticket holders have been relocated from North Lower and will then be in seats which potentially have been purchased by casual season ticket holders for this game.

‘So we have no option but to give a refund to everybody who has bought a casual ticket. Then they’ll have to repurchase the seats available that haven’t been taken by the relocation.’

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