The Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference has now been in place for over 10 years providing regular dialogue between Pompey fans and the club.
Here are the minutes from the recent meeting which covered topics such as fans return to Fratton Park, iFollow for which the club currently receive the full £10 cost to fans for each game, club finances, player updates and more.
Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference
Tuesday 8th December – 5:30pm
Mark Catlin, Tony Brown, Anna Mitchell, Johnny Moore (PFC)
Mike Fulcher (TGFC Chair & Social Media Groups), Donald Vass (TGFC Secretary & Chichester Portsmouth Supporters’ Club), Ian Marshall (Chimes Lounge), Steve Tovey (Legends Lounge & Pompey History Society), Gemma Raggett (London Supporters’ Club), John Brindley (North Stand), John Cannings (Northern Blues), Graham Price (Pompey 808), Pam Wilkins (Pompey Disabled Supporters’ Association), Barry Dewing (Pompey Independent Supporters’ Association), Simon Colebrook (Pompey Supporters’ Trust), Roy Gregory (Central Branch Supporters’ Club).
Steve Cornell-Davis (South West Supporters’ Club)
MF opened the meeting by thanking the club for their previous correspondence regarding poppies on shirts for the televised FA Cup game against Ipswich on 7th November. This was resolved in time for the next fixture on 10th November. He also thanked the club for the free iFollow passes for season ticket holders for the Crewe game on 21st November.
1. Fans’ return to Fratton Park
Q: What are the club’s reflections from Saturday, which saw the return of fans to Fratton Park?
MC: The club has received good feedback from fans who attended and it was a successful day. Some issues were raised by the local council but these were relatively minor and are being addressed. Fans adhered well to safety measures.
Q: Why was Pam Wilkins, a fan representative, disinvited from the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) meeting ahead of the match?
MC: It’s not up to the club who attends the SAG. It’s good to have a fan representative on the board, but if confidential issues are due to be discussed then the SAG may opt to exclude fans. The SAG don’t want things discussed widely. If fans have particular issues, these may be better raised to TGFC or H&A board if needed.
Q: Why were tickets not sold in alphabetic flexi-season ticket group order? (ie. Group A & B first)
AM: The club wanted to make it as fair as possible for fans.
Q: Why aren’t the draws done further in advance, and for more than just the next fixture, so fans can plan ahead?
AM: It’s hard for club to plan ahead as well, as Covid regulations may change. The city could move into Tier 1, meaning 4,000 fans could attend, or Tier 3, meaning none could attend. The Peterborough game was organised very quickly in response to newly announced government guidance, and future games will be sold slightly further in advance.
Q: Tickets to the Fleetwood game go on sale at 1pm, instead of 7am. Why was this changed?
AM: People are more likely to be online at 1pm than 7am. The club is also adding a longer lead-in time for online sales before phone lines open. The club would prefer for people to buy online if possible and wants to encourage fans to do so.
Q: Will the club prioritise hospitality tickets while crowds are reduced in order to maximise income?
AM: Selling hospitality is difficult at the moment. The club had continued to offer it behind closed doors, but numbers were down to 20-25 people. The Chimes Lounge is being used as the away dressing room and the Legends Lounge is being used for stewards. The club is aiming to get more lounges back open and available. Sponsors are currently a priority for hospitality to keep them satisfied.
Q: How many fans who attended on Saturday were from outside the area?
AM: 4 flexi season ticket-holders were from Tier 3 areas and so had their ticket orders refused.
Q: Why did the club opt for ‘pod’ groupings rather than single seats?
AM: Pods allowed us to have more capacity in bigger stands. This meant more fans were in the Fratton End, which led to a better atmosphere. In the first round of sales, pods of 2, 3 and 4 sold out quickly, leaving bigger groups of 5 or 6 in the next day’s sale. This has been reconfigured to avoid this happening in the future.
Q: Are there any findings from the FSA fans’ survey on iFollow?
MC: No results yet.
Q: Has the club considered hosting it’s own streaming platform, as some other clubs like Sunderland have done?
AM: It would require a lot of upfront investment, which would take a long time to recoup. If the club were promoted to the Championship, there will be fewer games available on iFollow as well, because they’re shown on Sky instead, which would further reduce the benefit. The club currently receives all of the £10 cost to fans for each iFollow game.
Q: Will the club be able to broadcast Saturday 3pm fixtures when fans are back in full?
AM: Probably not – which would again reduce the benefit of having our own streaming platform. The club is in favour of the blackout, to help protect its ticketing income.
Q: Did the club see any uplift in sales following the free passes for the Crewe game for flexi season ticket holders?
AM: There was a small uplift of around 600 for the following home match.
Q: If fans have complaints regarding iFollow, should they contact the EFL or the club?
AM: They should contact the EFL first, then the club if they are not happy with how things have been resolved.
Q: Are the club happy with iFollow?
AM: There have been two significant problems involving Portsmouth games this season, but feeds have generally been OK. There have been fewer complaints this season than last.
3. Player update
Q: Is there any further news on the PFA arbitration on the salary cap?
[MC gave an update on the status of the arbitration].
Q. Has the club opened talks with out of contract players? How is this impacted by the salary cap?
MC: Portsmouth have initiated talks with players who are out of contract in June 2021, but this is on the basis of what can be offered under the constraints of the salary cap, often far less than their current salary. On this basis, players and agents are unlikely to be interested while they could be offered something similar to their current salary by Championship clubs.
Q: How does the salary cap affect recruitment in January?
MC: There is enough money available under the salary cap restrictions for one good player in January, or more flexibility if players were to depart.
Q: Can scouts attend matches at the moment?
MC: Yes, for any opposition you face in the next three fixtures.
Q: Will the new work permit restrictions as a result of Brexit impact our European scouting and recruitment?
MC: The restrictions shouldn’t be too bad for us. Rasmus Nicolaisen may not have been able to come under the new restrictions but will be able to see out his loan deal as planned. Players signed from the 2nd or 3rd tiers in good footballing nations should qualify.
4. Club finances
Q: Have the club made any redundancies?
MC: There have been no forced redundancies. We should be very proud of that as a club. We have made some operational redundancies as a result of restructuring, but nothing Covid related.
Q: How will the EFL bailout affect Portsmouth?
TB: The club is looking at a potential loss of income of £5-6m so it is a welcome package. There are some limitations attached to the final tranche which restrict transfer and salary spending. We are arguing our case against this, with Sundeland and Ipswich also involved. We are trying to maximise what we can get out of it.
The bailout is not enough to clear losses. We will offset a little by having fans in, but didn’t make much money on Saturday. We have tried to tighten our belt in all areas of business and be as cost effective as possible, and so want a good deal with the EFL.
Q: Is it a good idea for Portsmouth to sign up to spending restrictions?
TB: It may not be a bad thing for the club. If we are not spending as much over the next 18 months because of the salary cap then we may not find the rules overly restrictive. We will evaluate what’s in the best interest of the club and act accordingly, whether that means taking the extra tranche of money or not.
Q: How will the bailout affect recruitment?
TB: We may need to look at younger players, who do not count towards the maximum squad size of 20 for next season.
5. The Milton End
Q: Are there any new infrastructure developments?
MC: The club won’t imminently be going forward with building The Milton End. We need the walkway issue resolved before we start any new project. [MC gave an update on other considerations impacting the development of Fratton Park].
6. The 19/20 EFL Trophy final
Q: What’s the current status of the 19/20 EFL Trophy final against Salford?
AM: The club is waiting to hear back from the EFL. The club has informed them that fans would like a refund and asked for a plan. The club was hopeful of refunds for fans in time for Christmas but this now looks unlikely. There remains some hope that the game could be played in front of fans in the Spring.
Q: Given vastly changed circumstances since taking over, do the owners still have an appetite for the project?
MC: Tornante are still very keen and enthusiastic.
Q: Are there any exciting young players coming through?
MC: There are many good players in the academy. I like Harry Kavanagh. Many clubs are opting to close down their academy – Birmingham have just announced this, following on from Brentford and Huddersfield. This is not a route we’re going down. If the salary cap remains in place, we could look to invest in another club or a development squad if we are left with a surplus of money to spend.
Q: Will our FA Cup 3rd round game with Bristol City be televised?
[AM gave an update on potential TV picks]
Now confirmed will be shown for free on FA Player – Sunday 10 January, 1:30pm KO
Q: Is there a better team spirit this season?
MC: Yes. Having a smaller, tight-knit squad is helping. Players are very supportive of each other, even when out of the team.
Q: Given renewed media coverage, have the squad discussed ‘taking the knee’ again? Would the club be supportive of this?
MC: It’s up to Tom Naylor and the players. We would support the team either way.
MF closed the meeting at 6:40.
– Minutes by Donald Vass.