Promise to communicate key to new CEO Portsmouth's stewardship as owners stay silent

We were promised Andy Cullen would bring an open and accessible approach to the Pompey CEO role.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 6:06 pm

And there’s little doubt that such a manner of operating is going to be critical, when it’s now 808 days and counting since The News heard anything from his bosses.

Such a distance physically and figuratively from our American owners, has undoubtedly bred suspicion throughout the tougher moments of their four-year Fratton tenure.

Mark Catlin did so much to reconnect this football club with a fanbase through the years of community ownership, after a period when distrust had quite rightly become their default setting towards those at the club’s helm.

After their spell of courting supporters saw the club move into their ownership Catlin then, of course, effectively became the public voice of Eisners at Pompey.

It was a delicate road travelled effectively and with no little skill, connecting with the media and the different sections of support in such a way that unprecedented levels of trust were reached with a chief executive.

Now his successor picks up the baton, tasked with continuing the growth in relations between football club, city and supporters.

New Pompey chief executive Andrew Cullen

At Pompey’s newly-acquired Roko training base this morning the man from Suffolk gave an assured and congenial opening display, as the local press got to know the new man at the helm.

Cullen spoke for around 90 minutes to broadcast and written media - and no subject was off limits.

Being parachuted into his start in the role in the midst of the stadium and training ground news of recent days, was no doubt a gift and a curse for the arrival from MK Dons.

It meant far-reaching questions on both topics, but with it five weeks since the confirmation of his arrival and the position seemingly secured well before that date, Cullen was up to speed on the detail.

‘If only we’d announced four signings as well,’ he quipped, as he made reference to that other burning issue among fans at present.

That was where his focus was eventually to turn as proceedings were brought to premature halt, by Pompey’s head coach being keen to get on with the pressing matter of organising his player hunt.

Before that a desire to be ‘communicative and consultative’ over ‘dictatorial’ was affirmed, as the man who’s served on two EFL boards slipped into corporate speak.

It’s not necessarily the kind of talk you’ll hear too much of in the Shepherd’s Crook tomorrow night as England take on Scotland, but it’s a reassuring stance along with a promise to ‘listen, learn and understand’ about his new surroundings.

What became evident as Cullen spoke in the players’ common room, was Pompey punters can certainly draw further certainty over their owners from his presence.

After 11 years at Norwich and 12 at Stadium MK, this is a man with a proven history of staying for the long term - and certain assurances were needed before PO4 was confirmed as his latest home.

The fact the £10m Fratton and training ground investments were injected as equity rather than debt was clearly of paramount importance to the new CEO, along with a ‘sustainable’ vision which clearly resonates strongly.

So a promising opening chapter from a man who will be critical to the path this football club now takes. Hopefully, there's plenty of happy reading when we digest Andy Cullen’s Pompey story in a decade’s time.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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