‘We have no choice, if we don’t do this then you won’t have crowds inside Fratton Park': Andy Cullen on how Portsmouth will implement coronavirus certification

Pompey’s implementation of coronavirus certification on match days has suffered a delay.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 4:55 am

Yet while the Blues’ Boxing Day unveiling has been postponed, Andy Cullen anticipates the new legislation remaining in place until mid-February.

The visit of Oxford United for a sell-out occasion was expected to signal the start of the government’s Plan B measures.

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Under terms of the legal requirement, Pompey would not be allowed to grant admission to those unable to comply.

With Tuesday’s cancellation of the Boxing Day game following a Covid outbreak among Danny Cowley’s squad, the next Fratton Park fixture is January 15 against MK Dons.

And Pompey’s chief executive insists the club remain well prepared to accommodate the new measures.

Cullen told The News: ‘One or two people are asking why, as a club, we are doing this. Well, we have no choice.

Coronavirus certification will now be introduced at Fratton Park on January 15 against MK Dons. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages

‘Marie Stedman (head of safety and stadium operations) and myself spent lengthy meetings last week with the police, public health with the Safety & Advisory Group (SAG), who will only licence us on the basis we carry out 100 per cent checks.

‘There’s no choice, if you don’t do this then you won’t have crowds inside the stadium.

‘They have the power to turn people away if you are not doing the right number of checks – which is something nobody wants.

‘Regardless of the Boxing Day game being called off, these measures will be taking place for the foreseeable future, certainly for the games in January and potentially into February as well.

‘The main thing is to hope it doesn’t get any worse where you end up with restrictions like we had last year, such as crowd numbers being reduced and social distancing measures coming into place.

‘Everybody just wants to play football in front of spectators.’

Fratton Park match-day measures will include a lateral flow testing station set up on the Tesco car park to ensure supporters can meet entrance criteria.

Meanwhile, up to 50 new staff will be hired to oversee checks, with turnstiles to open 15 minutes earlier than the traditional time of 1.30pm.

Cullen added: ‘The key challenge is to encourage people to get to the ground earlier than they would normally because they need to go through an extra check.

‘Checks will be carried out away from the turnstiles, so we’ve got different points around entrances off Anson Road and Carisbrooke Road.

‘Before you get to the turnstiles, you can wave or show your pass to another ring of security staff.

‘So, by the time you get to the turnstile, that has been done – and you’re straight through as normal.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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