Portsmouth CEO Andy Cullen reaffirms current owners commitment and outlines the significant investment in the academy following Sean O'Driscoll's departure prior to Sunderland victory

Pompey CEO Andy Cullen has confirmed Michael and Eric Eisner’s commitment to the club amid changes to the Blues academy

Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 12:49 pm

Earlier this week, academy chef Sean O’Driscoll resigned from his position- citing personal reasons as to why he left Fratton Park.

As a result of this, alarm bells began to ring as speculation grew surrounding the future of the Blues academy.

However, in Pompey CEO Andy Cullen’s pre-Sunderland programme notes, he was quick to explain that the academy is still high on the list of priorities for the current owners.

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When Michael Eisner took the reigns on the south coast, he explained that revamping the academy was a key part of his long term plan at the club.

Since then, the former Disney chairman has come under fire from some sections of the Blues supporters for reportedly unfulfilling his promise.

Cullen, though, has outlined the significant investment placed into the academy and shone a light into why there have been recent changes to its structure

Cullen said: ‘The club were concerned to read reports this week suggesting a lack of financial commitment to our academy. This could not be further from the truth, especially given Tornante’s multi-million-pound purchase of Roko this summer and their ever-increasing annual investment towards supporting and financing the academy operation.

Sean O'Driscoll left his position as head of coaching and learning earlier this week

‘The owners’ decision this summer to heavily invest in Roko is all part of the strategy to improve the prospects for young talent to achieve their dream of one day representing their local professional football club. This has come at a time when many clubs have chosen to scale back on their own academies in the wake of the financial pressures that have arisen from the pandemic, with some other academy committed clubs cancelling or mothballing infrastructure projects altogether.

‘Our own academy operation continues to receive a substantial investment each year from our owners. In fact, the annual academy spend has now increased to just under £1 million and according to the last EFL benchmarking report, this yearly investment is 20 per cent above the average for category three academy clubs.

‘Further to those reports of lack of investment, the club – and in particular the academy – were also distressed to read reports on social media of staff ‘mass resignations’. Yet again, these reports are simply not correct. We have had some departures over the summer, but most have been for very positive reasons. Some have progressed into first team roles both at Pompey and other clubs, while some of those in non-coaching roles have been able to achieve career promotions in their respective disciplines. Just as all academy players want to realise the dream of becoming a full-time professional footballer, many academy staff will have their own career aspirations, to progress to the highest level, and academies provide a great opportunity and a clear pathway to realising such personal dreams. The recent positive progression we have witnessed demonstrates that we have some very talented staff capable of achieving great things in their own careers and that time spent at Pompey, developing themselves, can only benefit the club in the long-term.’