Portsmouth chief declares League One ambition ahead of season's curtain-raiser against Bristol Rovers

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Andy Cullen has reiterated Pompey’s promotion ambition.

The Blues’ chief executive is adamant escaping League One in 2023-24 is the club’s goal after a demoralising 11 years away from the Championship.

The previous three campaigns have represented failure, with Pompey unable to even reach the top six – last term finishing eighth.

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Following a summer overhaul involving 12 new recruits, four of which involved transfer fees, and retaining star men Colby Bishop and Joe Morrell, there is renewed optimism ahead of Saturday’s kick-off against Bristol Rovers.

Certainly Cullen is unequivocally clear what the Blues’ aspirations are – and insists owners Tornante have provided the ‘conditions for success’.

He told The News: ‘Success for us represents promotion, whether it be automatically or via the play-offs.

‘Everything we are trying to do is geared towards getting the club out of this division. We would be disappointed if we didn’t go up having had those targets.

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‘All of us want to get out of this division, our ambition is promotion. John (Mousinho) has said that, Michael Eisner did in an interview in June, I’ve said it numerous times, Rich (Hughes) has said it as well.

Andy Cullen insists Pompey want a Championship return this season. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImagesAndy Cullen insists Pompey want a Championship return this season. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
Andy Cullen insists Pompey want a Championship return this season. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

‘This is sport and sport has a number of uncontrollables, but we have done everything we possibly can to create conditions for success.

‘We have recruited a sporting director, we’ve signed players from the Australian and Northern Ireland markets, we have a very clear, defined strategy in terms of we’ll pay fees for young, up-and-coming players on an upward trajectory and are first-team ready.

‘Since January we have paid fees for six players, including Anthony Scully, a proven operator at this level, and we have reduced the reliance on loans. In recent years, expenditure on loan players has been double that of the nearest League One club.

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‘We want to achieve success, but don’t want it to be temporary, so we go up and push on again, that’s why we’re trying to construct the squad in the way we have – and doing our business early.

‘We are looking at other aspects where we can improve. We have beefed up our analysis team, we are strengthening the medical department in terms of sports science and number of staff.

‘We have two permanent first-team goalkeepers, there are 12 signings in the building and we still want to add at least one more. There have been improvements to the training ground, small things which make a difference to the players

‘All we can do is put the conditions in place to succeed and, if you get to the end of the season and don't achieve that target, then you reflect and look back at the reasons why that hasn’t happened,

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‘But we want to progress this football club, we’re not into quick fixes, we are into achieving success – and success is promotion.’

Pompey have spent money on Scully, Christian Saydee, Terry Devlin and Kusini Yengi during the transfer window so far, all for undisclosed fees.

With Paddy Lane and Ryley Towler also purchased in January, Cullen believes that reflects a ramping up of financial commitment from owners Tornante.

He added: ‘The investment in players this season has increased.

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‘You can see that by the fact we have paid out fees for four players in this window compared to the two we brought in during January.

‘But it’s not about the budget or how much you’ve got – it’s how you use the resources.

‘It’s about having a clear, identifying strategy and I’m really, really pleased how we’ve now got that under a sporting director structure, which was critical.’