Portsmouth to involve supporters as they take next step in realising £11.5m Fratton Park vision
Pompey are finalising their plans over how to execute the next stage of Fratton Park’s redevelopment.
And Blues chief executive Andy Cullen has revealed supporters will be involved in deciding the finer details of how work on the North Stand will be carried out from the end of this year.
Cullen explained the club are setting up a working group directly involving those affected by the lower section upgrading to meet safety requirements.
Pompey must take steps to carry out the work during the season as part of the £11.5m stadium improvement project - or see stadium capacity slashed next term.
That is going to mean upheaval for those who take in games from what historically was the north terrace.
Cullen has ideas for how to minimise the disruption, but stressed it’s critical those impacted have as much involvement in the decision making process as possible.
He said: ‘From the end of this year starting in late December, we will start work on the north lower. That is the next big challenge for us.
‘That will involve some people in those areas being relocated for a number of games.
‘That will probably be done in two phases: from Boxing Day until March will be phase one (bulldozing the western end). Then from March until the end of the season it's phase two (bulldozing the eastern end).
‘What’s really important and a key learning from the work we did earlier in the year, is to involve supporters in those decisions.
‘So at the end of this month, we intend to get a small group of supporters from the north lower to work with the executive to develop the plan as to how it will work.
‘I have some ideas myself to how that will work and I think it’s important I share those and we ask, how can we improve that? What do you think is the best way to do the work?
‘We had to do the work because if we don’t capacity will go down for next season - and I think supporters get that. So it’s how do we best do that?
‘Supporters want to know, where can I move to and most importantly, when I move back will I still be with my friends and family? Will we still be together as a group? That’s really important in terms of coming to football.
‘The answer is of course yes, but how do we give people those assurances that will work?
‘The best way is to go through the process and show people, work through the plans and give them a really good idea as to how the new seating plan will look in the future.’
Cullen detailed how he intends to lead the working group with club ticket office staff and Steve Cripps, managing director of PMC Construction and Development Services who is overseeing the stadium work, also involved.
And the Blues CEO is clear on a timescale for dialogue and consultation leading into the work starting at the end of the year.
He added: ‘There will be a real working group established and we will work through the challenges and options we’ve got.
‘It will be a real working party with the process starting in a couple of weeks through to the end of November. Then there’s four weeks to communicate to everybody.
'We’d like to hold some sessions where they can come to the club, open some lounges in the evening and be on hand to answer questions. The most important people involved will be the supporters.
‘Then by the end of December we will have a really good, effective model in place.
‘It’s a massive challenge and I accept some people will feel inconvenienced, but there is no alternative - otherwise we’d start next season with a lower capacity when we’re trying to drive it back up to 20,000.
‘But we don’t want to tell people what they’re doing, we want to work with them. If you are engaging and looking at all the options, we will hopefully come to the best outcome.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
We’ve slashed the cost of digital subscriptions to our website by 50 per cent for a limited time.
You can now subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, for less than 13p a day.