'We want to establish it as one of the premier training sites in south of England' - Andy Cullen on Portsmouth ambition to rival Southampton and Brighton

The purchase of Roko can put Pompey on a ‘level playing field’ with south-coast rivals.

Sunday, 20th June 2021, 4:55 am
Pompey have ambitions for their training ground and Roko Health Club after last week purchasing the venue. Picture: Habibur Rahman

That’s the verdict of chief executive Andy Cullen following acquisition of the Blues’ long-time training home.

Pompey moved to the Hilsea venue in December 2014 when under fan ownership, ending a nomadic existence.

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Cullen admits he is still coming to terms with the club’s ambition for the Copnor Road facilities, having himself started work at Fratton Park on Wednesday.

Yet he insists, ultimately, the aim is to create a training compex to rival the likes of Southampton and Brighton.

He told The News: ‘Owning the health club, developing it, making it successful is, ultimately, going to help the football budget, that’s what they (Tornante) are here to do.

‘The owners aren’t here to take money out of the health club or money out of the football club, they are here to provide the best possible support they can to enable the football club to realise its aims.

‘For me, it has happened relatively quickly, I am inheriting it from Mark (Catlin). I am sure there are hundreds of ideas of what we can do with it.

‘We want to establish it as one of the premier training sites and training grounds in the south of England and make sure we can compete.

‘There are great sites at Southampton and Brighton, it’s about making sure that Pompey can compete on a level playing field.

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‘For any football club that doesn’t own its training ground, you can be a bit of a hostage to fortune, you are not in control, you maybe can’t do things that you want to do.

‘We’ve got ideas about the way we want to develop it – I need to understand from Danny and the board how they see it going forward.’

Pompey will take over operation of the Roko Health Club from June 23.

According to Cullen, members and staff will not be affected as the football club seek to maintain its current level of operation.

The Blues chief executive added: ‘We are committed to the Roko Health Club.

‘It will be part of helping us extend the Pompey brand and I am sure there will be opportunities for our season-ticket holders to enjoy some benefits there as well. It’s one of the things we want to look at.

‘Equally, it’s giving reassurance to the staff who work there at the moment that they are part of the Portsmouth Football Club family as well.

‘Clearly it’s a great site.’

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