Fan on the Board Reports - 2006
20 November 2006 - Regeneration Meeting
Those in attendance included Heather Rabbatts (Executive Chairman), Stewart Till (Football Club Chairman), Peter Garston (Fan Director), Derek King (posts as Hannibal on message boards), Nick Hart (posts as The Archbishop of Canterbury on message boards), Nigel Spink (from HOF) and Graeme Smale (MSC).
Peter opened the meeting by saying that he arranged it, as there was a very real desire from supporters to hear about the progress of the regeneration scheme and how it was going to benefit the football club. Those attending had some technical knowledge in the associated areas of housing, property and local government and also represented major contributors to the fans message boards in the case of Nick, Nigel Spink and Derek, with the MSC being represented by Graeme.
Derek emphasized that the fans were keen to know how the football club would gain from the scheme; what risk is there to the football club if the scheme fails; In view of the recent announcement of more annual losses is there a plan B if the scheme does not go ahead. Heather stated that although Peter De Savary, initially a prime instigator of the scheme, was no longer involved, the Board was very keen to push on with the regeneration due to the potential profits that it could yield to the club. Indeed she remained convinced that it was viable. She wanted to underline that the club was not moving and that the football ground remained at the heart of the scheme. Given the fact that the club had no intentions whatsoever to leave their ground, the Board could see no reason why any part of the pitch should be sold off or let out to any other party.
She continued that being in inner London complicated the scheme since the land use around the ground was zoned light industrial. If the club is to obtain any variation in planning uses, it must emphasise its role as a significant employer in the area and an established community centre. In answer to the question as to whether there is a plan if this scheme fell by the wayside, Heather stated that the business of the football club is continuing as normal. She is constantly looking at ways to curb losses. Stewart is investigating shirt sponsorship and ways of bringing new investment into the club are being viewed.
Nigel Spink asked whether any development company involved in the construction of the "Sports City" project would take on the Millwall brand name.
Heather said this would not happen as the name unfortunately at present was not considered popular outside our supporter base. This question lead on to a discussion of the mechanics of how the club was to benefit from the scheme and how risks to the Club were to be contained. Heather stated that the Club was looking for a development partner that would see the potential of the scheme, and this partner would provide it's own risk capital. This development partner would also have to understand that a key element of the partnership was that benefits should accrue to the club. Some surprise was expressed that a developer would agree to such a deal but Heather stated that deals like this were being completed across the country and it was her role to find a partner that would be supportive of the Club.
In answer to a question regarding the relationship between the PLC and football Boards, it was stated that the PLC Board was there to foster the interests of the football club and try to put it on a firm financial footing.
Derek / Nigel further enquired whether any public money would be used in the scheme. Heather said that it was envisaged that no public funds would be used. The money would be raised from the private sector. Indeed, under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, it may be that the local authorities could call for planning gain probably in the form of affordable social housing.
Graeme alluded to a recent regeneration scheme carried out by Sheffield United F.C where ownership of land had been the key to its success. He therefore asked whether the Board had been involved in land purchase or options to purchase around the ground. Heather considered this question to be too commercially sensitive and therefore could not answer it. To indicate that the club was interested in land purchase would inflate prices.
Nigel asked whether an indication could be given of how income will accrue to the Club once the scheme is completed. Heather stated that it was envisaged that income could be raised through trust arrangements or through percentages of rents. It was too early to comment on the in depth mechanism of revenue rising but she was happy to explain this once a development partner had been found.
Graeme pointed out that at the last fan's forum. Heather had stated that she envisaged securing outline planning permission by this autumn. Heather admitted that the time schedule had slipped but she had spent an amount of time getting the relevant local authorities on side and can say that she has had some very productive conversations with them. She thought the scheme would take some 5-7 years to complete. Heather further stated that the scheme does not in any way depend on the Surrey Canal Road Tube extension.
Nick asked as a fan why should he believe in the scheme when there is still little hard information available. Heather answered that the fans must trust her and The Board by their deeds. Peter reinforced this statement by saying his confidential knowledge of the boards support given to the club by board members following the recent announced losses demonstrated the boards strong commitment to the Football Clubs well being and continued existence.
Nick further asked whether there was any solid message that could be taken away and given to the fans. Heather replied that there were several positives. The scheme is still ongoing despite the departure of Peter De Savary; it is currently making very good progress; the fans have an enduring promise that the ground remains at the heart of the scheme and the club is not moving; the fans should be reassured that The Board intends to and can deliver. Heather fundamentally believes that the scheme will reach fruition for the benefit of the football club.
The meeting agreed that there were many other issues to cover with more information to be given as the scheme progresses. Stewart and Heather therefore gave a commitment to further meetings.
The meeting closed at 1 pm
20 October 2006 - FOTB Latest
I think the result against Bournemouth and how the team ground out a result would not have happened a few weeks ago. It appears not only is there a new team spirit and fight within the team but the rub of the green seems to have gone our way of late.
It was another great result on the previous Saturday, the first time I have seen us win in Carlisle in four visits!
Results like that will keep Willie in pole position for the vacant position, hopefully up to the finishing line (wherever that may be).
Off the field as is the norm I get very little mail when we are doing well, prior to the last four games I was inundated with complaints, so three more points will make my job a lot easier.
Since the departure of Nigel Spackman I have attended several meetings with the board to discuss the way forward, things are moving along as I would expect and I am confident the right decisions are being taken. It is key the board and fans get behind Willie 100%.
Looking at the current table we are only seven points off of the Play-Offs or five points off the bottom (just for the pessimists).
A couple current things going on:
Firstly the managerial search. I have seen so many rumours as to who the club has spoken to and who has been at the club meeting with the Chairman. Just to set the record straight, the club has not made any approaches or interviewed any candidates. We are 100% behind Willie, why people start these rumours I really don't know.
Secondly, a couple of fans have come up with the idea of commissioning a set of new gates, not any old gates but ones we will all be proud of. The gates will be bought by the fans and take pride of place at the entrance to the club. We are looking at comparisons with Hyde Park, Liverpool and Aston Villa in terms of size and quality. We have met with the club who are 100% behind the idea. I will keep you updated with any further developments.
15 September 2006 - Managerspeak
Millwall's Fan on the Board Pete Garston met manager Nigel Spackman at the Training Ground this week. Here is his account of their conversation.
Why do you change the formation so often?
"I have scouts out watching the opposition teams, then using the players available I pick the team to combat the opposition using the information I have been given or watched on video. Also one of the problems we have is when players are coming back from injury/suspension we need to give them a run out in the reserves to get them match fit. With the new regional reserve league there are not as many games. Due to cup games etc our next reserve game is in 5 weeks time. We have tried to arrange several behind closed doors friendlies but have had them called off at the last moment. We can play against each other and the academy sides but it is not the same as a fully competitive match. Bringing players straight back into the squad after injury is not ideal."
I relayed the fact that the team seemed to be lacking in passion and confidence:
"It is a very new team and relationships are still being formed. Some players are confidence players and it is my responsibility to build their confidence after a bad performance. No player goes out intentionally to play badly - there was a big upturn in passion in the Cheltenham game prior to the sending off of Lennie Pidgeley, but once the sending off occurred we were on the back foot. When the players are confident they are more likely to go for their passes and not hoof the ball because they are worried about getting caught in possession."We need to battle when necessary and play football when we can. It is vital that I have a stable squad and give the two main strikers a good run to enable them to form a partnership. If we start stringing some results together hopefully the confidence will appear."
I asked why there had been so many changes of both players and formation:
"Due to sending offs, injuries etc, I have had to tinker with the team and formation more than I have wanted to With nearly the whole team now available, I hope to have a period of stability, to play the same team and find the best players for all positions. Plus the stability will help the competition for places. If we can get a run with the same team and start scoring we will turn the corner".
We have had a very unfortunate period where key players have been sidelined so early in the season. This would obviously have affected the manager's thoughts when selecting players to produce a more settled team. It is now very encouraging to see the likes of Maurice Ross, Tony Craig, Chris Hackett, Mark Phillips and Samy Mawene back from injury and training hard today, and to also receive confirmation from Nigel Spackman that Jody Morris is progressing really well and should be back to training hopefully in 2/3 weeks. It was a great boost today to see Ben May out on the training field beginning to get involved again and kicking balls around. Tom Brighton has a few weeks to go yet, but nevertheless all very encouraging for NS to have so many players back in the squad for selection.
We watched part of the video from Tuesday's game against Gillingham, going through individuals performances with NS explaining what mistakes were made. He went through the video with all the players. Both goals on Tuesday were due to the fact that team members didn't stick to the strategy they had been given. It is NS's responsibility to make sure they do or risk losing their places in the team.
NS was fully aware of the feelings of the fans as were the players. He also knows that to win the fans over he must start winning games. He hopes with a period of stability in the team that will happen. He confirmed that currently the criticism is warranted. He believes strongly that we will turn the corner with squad stability. NS accepted total responsibility for our position, but he was said that with a stable squad he will turn it round.
22 June 2006 - FOTB Update
It appears things are moving in the right direction at the moment with new signings plus a few more to come, upgrade of the training ground and new ticketing system. An overhaul of the club is in progress to find out what works, what doesn't work and what can be put in place to improve things. Communications from the club via email and post have sometimes been a sore point for fans, and Heather Rabbatts has given me an undertaking that this will be looked at during the close season.
With this in mind, we all need to be patient while the changes happen. If you have an urgent enquiry, as always you can email me and I will pick it up.
I am growing ever-more confident with the new "regime" and know we will be going for it big time next season. As always, let's get behind the team, the board and anyone connected with Millwall be it Junior Lions, Lionesses, the Under 9's or any other part of the Millwall family.
I met with Loo Brackpool, Millwall's Community Scheme Director, recently and she showed me around the facilities right next door to The Den. The building really is state-of-the-art, and here Loo explains a bit about what they get up to....
Millwall Community Scheme
Hiding in the depths of the Lions Centre, next to The Den, is a highly skilled, experienced team of dedicated workers who - in wind, rain and sunshine - strive to offer the local community the opportunity to play sport, meet people, learn skills and generally have a good time. Millwall Community Scheme (MCS) has a proud tradition of delivering sports activities across Lewisham and Southwark, and was one of the flagship "Football in the Community Schemes" which now has a national network in nearly every Premiership and Football League Club.
MCS is renowned for our work in local schools, its holiday soccer schools and football coaching on housing estates. It thrives on providing kids the chance to get involved in sport by either playing or coaching. However, it does much more than that?
In the last year over 360 people have achieved a coaching qualification through the Scheme - mainly an FA Level 1 but also FA Level 2, Level 1 & 2 Basketball, Speed Agility Quickness and Junior/Community Sports Leaders Awards.
Many of these are young people who participated in the Scheme's coaching sessions, and at the age of 16 are offered the chance to take a coaching course. Up to 20 of these now work for the Scheme as a part-time coach, going back out onto the estates to run their own sessions. The Scheme has also expanded into delivering sports other than football - such as basketball, netball, sport hall athletics, rugby and tennis. Through this coaching, we are now also developing local community clubs - offering kids the chance to receive higher quality coaching and play competitive matches against other clubs - something which has not previously been available for them in the local area. In the last year, you will have realised that a new indoor training centre has been built at the Lions Centre. This is a state-of-the-art facility with third generation astroturf, the £1.46m cost of which was raised by the Scheme.
Used by the Millwall Academy and by the Scheme for its own activities, the facility is the only one of its type in SE London which can be hired by the local community - something else of which the Scheme is extremely proud. Whilst separate from the Club (it is a registered charity with its own Board of Trustees), the Scheme works in close partnership with Millwall FC. However, as a charity and voluntary organisation it is able to apply for grants from organisations such as The Lottery and other charitable trusts in order to fund its activities. We are always looking to extend our activities and visit more locations around the two boroughs, but coaches and equipment cost money!
In the last few years the Scheme has raised around £750,000 a year - so allowing many activities to be made available for nothing to participants. Even the holiday soccer schools are run at a near breakeven basis and cost a lot less than similar schemes run by other London clubs - thereby encouraging as many people as possible to attend. This season we were delighted to be short-listed for the Community Club of the Year Award at the inaugural FourFourTwo Football League Awards. Whilst pipped at the post by Brentford, this was a cracking acknowledgement of our achievements.
We're always keen to receive suggestions as to what else we can do and where we can run and activity. So - give us a call and help us get more people involved in our activities!
The Community Scheme Office can be contacted on 0207 740 0503
13 June 2006 - Meet the managet
Fan/Director Pete Garston met new manager Nigel Spackman recently and updates supporters with what he has learned so far.
"At last things are falling into place, new manager and the first two signings, both very capable and I feel will do well next season. Hopefully, the existing team members will benefit from the new competition as well. The good thing is that both players want to play for Millwall and for me that is a huge bonus."
"There has been much debate with regard to who chose Darren Byfield. Darren has been a Millwall target for a while, and the board felt it best to wait until the new manager was in place before going ahead with the deal. Nigel Spackman had the final say before the deal was completed, as he will have on all new signings. Nigel is now looking at further signings to strengthen the squad, hopefully sooner rather than later."
"I met with Nigel last week and had a long discussion about the footballing side of the club. Although it is early days, he has wasted no time looking round and highlighting areas for improvement at the club. The first priority is the training ground where work has already started. The facilities there are really out of date - players spend a lot of time there so it needs to be a place they feel comfortable. Nigel has ideas for all areas of the footballing side with the aim of improving the areas that appear to have been left unattended for quite a time. Nigel is looking at bringing in a new number two as soon as possible. He believes the club needs a solid foundation if we are going to sustain any improvement. This will be achieved through a management team showing good direction."
"I must say Nigel filled me with an air of confidence, I just hope he has the pulling power to get in the right players. Mind you getting Lenny Pidgeley from a club like Chelsea is a huge achievement."
6 June 2006 - Millwall Academy
Pete Garston has taken time out to look into the workings of the Millwall Academy and updates us with his findings.
The main aim of the Millwall Academy is to produce players of a standard good enough to get into the first team. The Academy has produced numerous players who have broken through into the first team in the last two years in particular. Home grown players who featured last season include: Marvin Williams, Will Hendry, Dean Pooley, Tony Craig, Marvin Elliott, Curtis Weston, Barry Cogan, Trevor Robinson, Alan Dunne, Mark Phillips, Paul Robinson, Ben May, Kevin Braniff. Prior to that, Millwall's track record in bringing through quality youngsters is second to none. The previous crop featured, amongst others: Peter Sweeney, Paul Ifill, Tim Cahill, Steven Reid, Richard Sadlier, Joe Dolan.
The Academy is currently run by five full-time staff. These are:
- Acting Academy Manager - Les Briley
- Under 18s Coach - Alan McLeary
- Education and Welfare Officer - Tony Sowerby
- Secretary - Karen Wilson
- Physio - Colin Clifford
They are supported by part-time coaches, physios, scouts and parent liaisons
The Academy takes boys on from U9s upwards. Those below this age are monitored to see if they are good enough for the Academy. There are 10 teams featuring approximately 150 youngsters. Each team trains 3 times per week, the training lasting for 90 minutes from 5.30 - 7.00pm Weekdays and 9.30-11.00 Saturdays. Each team has a coach, physio and access to pastoral care in the form of the Education and Welfare Officer for both players and their families.
At 16 if selected, the player signs on as an Academy scholar. There are normally 8 per year who are taken on. Others who are let go are given assistance in finding another club, or work.
The successful scholars sign a 2 year contract which entails the following:
- Educational course at either A Level or GCSE level
- Level 3 NVQ
- Level 2 Coaching Badge
- 5 key skills certificates
Scholars do not finish when the season is over, as they have to complete their education courses.
Out of the current crop who have just signed there are 3 internationals (2 Irish & 1 English).
When the playing season ends the Academy then needs to prepare for the next season, arranging training programmes, training venues, attending various compulsory courses, scouting at tournaments, arranging kit for the new season, arranging trials for released boys, registering all existing boys, checking passes for staff and child protection cover, getting sponsorship for Academy teams etc.
The Academy is audited by the Premier League, and just under 20% of the funding comes from them and Sport England. From next season grant funding will be from Premier League, Football Association and Football Foundation. To comply with League regulations we need to complete an extensive overview of the Academy activity for the year.
26 May 2006 - Operation Devine
Following the recent arrests made in connection with matches at Millwall, both Suzanne Roberts-Attwood Chair of the Millwall Supporters Club and Peter Garston the Millwall FC Fan Director were contacted by the Head of Lewisham Police - Chief Superintendent Torrance and a short notice meeting was arranged to discuss the situation. It appears that two waves of arrests were made: Six Crystal Palace fans for damage made to the walkway following the game in February. Five Millwall fans for alleged offences made after an incident in the West Lower during the Wolves game in January, as well as from the East Upper 'youth' element - mainly for coin throwing in the game against Brighton in April.
A free and frank discussion took place relating to the feeling amongst many in the Millwall support that the police were targeting them unfairly. Both the MSC and the Fan Director stated that whilst they support action taken against any individual believed to be guilty of disorder offences, equally it is reasonable to expect high standards from the police service at the same time. Chief Superintendent Torrance accepted the need for unprofessional behaviour by his officers to be dealt with as severely as unacceptable behaviour amongst fans.
With regard to the allegations made on the Internet regarding the events at the Wolves match, these are sub-judice, as a court case has been lodged against various parties involved in the events. However, Peter Garston pressed the police on this point. He stated that he had heard that a child had been injured during the Wolves arrests.
The police replied that no children were hurt - or reported hurt - as a result of this action. Peter then asked to see the video in question to satisfy his own mind. Unfortunately due to the legal proceedings, this was not possible until after the court case - however, the police agreed to do so at that point. The officer confirmed that he had watched the video three times and had not seen a child getting hurt. The police case will, however, include the video as part of the evidence placed before the court.
Both the MSC and the Fan Director forcefully stressed the need for Police to be more accountable. In turn the police stated that they are willing to meet the fans in the near future to discuss all aspects of policing. It was also agreed that rumours needed to be quashed as soon as possible. With that in mind, meetings after any incidents at matches will be arranged as a matter of urgency. The meeting closed with an agreement to review further incidents on a match-by-match basis.
3 May 2006 - New Faces on Board
I attended a further board meeting on 3rd May to welcome the new members and discuss footballing matters. New Chairman Stewart Till is fairly knowledgeable about football and has hit the ground running. He is taking the lead in the managerial search and luckily work has been going ahead in the background since Dave Tuttle's departure, Stewart has committed to get the managerial post filled as soon as possible. We all agreed it is key to have someone in place before the Iceland trip. Executive Deputy Chairman Heather Rabbatts, strong and confident, controlled the meeting when it got "loud". I think she will lead from the front and be the hands on person we need on a daily basis.
Getting a manager in place is not as easy as it seems. The club needs to act in a professional manner and not break any FA rules. Consequently any manager who is contracted to a club cannot be spoken to unless there is agreement from his current club's board. If the club refuses Millwall the right to speak to the manager, it's game over. As I have stated before, the managers being approached are high quality. New players were discussed, but it was agreed that it would be best to await the new managerial appointment. Otherwise, if the style of player didn't suit, it would be a waste.
We discussed "teamwork" and it was agreed the board need to work as a team. This was echoed with regard to the whole club. Every member of staff needed to pull together as one for Millwall to succeed. Time will tell on this, but my feeling is that once the new "regime" gets settled in, it will be put up or ship out. Personally I hope that is the case, as the club doesn't have a lot of resources and what we have, we need to use smartly.
The board meeting at times was "passionate" with very open views being aired. Believe me things are moving.
Some people have wanted clarification of Ken Brown's role. After now meeting Ken a good few times, I am coming to understand his role. Ken is responsible for the contractual aspects of the football side, knowing who to engage when buying and selling players, who to engage when looking for a new manager, ensuring no FA rules are breached etc. The relationships and experience he has would be hard to replace. I am setting up meetings with Ken to meet fans, so if you want to meet him and air your views please email me.
I have been asked to find out who is responsible for paying the police inside the ground. The responsibility lies with Millwall to pay for the police and the policing levels are governed by the police. Meeting with Ken Chapman and being shown all correspondence relating to policing levels, I am confident Ken tries his best to keep levels down within the ground. The police make their call using "intelligence" gathered prior to the match. I see and hear people saying 'let's invade the pitch or the directors' box.' If I see it, the police do too. They will then call in extra police. Personally, I know when it's a joke as I have "been there". The police will not, so let's not give them the ammunition they need to fill the ground with police.
I did the "boardroom" thing at Crewe, it was all very nice. I felt a bit of a traitor sitting in the directors' bit while all my pals were in the stands. I will do it again but not sure how often. The Crewe board were amazed at the amount of fans we took and commented on us being diehards, considering it was a "nothing" game. I felt so proud!
I was invited to the Women's Cup Final as a guest of the club. I decided to go to see how it all worked. I did the "boardroom" thing, before and after the game. This is where a lot of information can be collected and friendships formed. I spent a fair bit of time with Jeff Burnige and his knowledge of the club, the FA and protocol was second to none. He introduced me to all and sundry, ensured that all the FA representatives were welcomed and so on. The main aim of the day was to show the FA that Millwall could host high profile FA sponsored games. The FA were impressed with the ground and facilities. Jeff was trying to get a commitment from the FA regarding the possibility of an Under 21 game at the Den. I learned a lot, mainly the fact that Jeff being the most active of the directors, is always trying to improve our standing, which in turn can only help, not only our image, but hopefully the incoming revenue. I am spending as much time on this as I can, 20 plus hours a week on Millwall matters. If you need to ask a question please do so via my email.
Well there you go, all the above is on the whole factual and not my opinion
20 April 2006 - General Report
The meeting was very open and all aspects of the footballing side were discussed, from the academy through to the 1st team, I made the point that we (the fans) wanted to see changes sooner rather than later as we needed to know we were not going to have another wasted close season. It was decided that changes would be announced and the search for a new manager should start in earnest, everyone was also in agreement that the decision for a replacement needed to be given a lot of thought to get the right person rather than a kneejerk appointment.
My views were listened to and I know they were taken into account, I am confident that changes for the better in all areas will take place sooner rather than later.
On the non footballing side in the next two weeks the club expects to make an announcement regards fresh executive faces, I am confident the new people will assist in getting things moving.
Director Forum - The first forum will be taking place on Saturday with Constantine Gonticas, I will be arranging for fans to meet all the directors/staff/players throughout the next season
Replica shirts - Orders have been placed so the replica shirts are produced in May to ensure the shirts can be made available for sale prior to people going on holiday.
Reserve games - I have, in principal had an agreement from the club that all reserve league games will be free entry from next year, the main aim of this is for kids to be able to turn up to reserve games when the schools are on holidays
Plymouth/Waterloo incidents - I was asked to "get involved" regarding the incident with 3 fans near the directors box, I spoke with all concerned, I was given a personal undertaking that an apology would be made to the Burnidge family for the events of that day. We are all frustrated at the events of this season, but we need to be mindful how we get this frustration out. I understand how frustrating it is, but I cannot and will not condone any type of over the top personal abuse.
Several people have mentioned on line the problems that occurred coming back from the Southampton game at Waterloo, I need the people involved to write to me so I can get an understanding of what went on, unless I have the information there is nothing I can do. I am meeting with the police tomorrow and will discuss this as best I can.
Expenses - I am know a full board member and given the same rights as all board members, one such right is to be able to claim back expenses, none of the current board claim expenses, obviously they are in a different league to me financially, rather than claim expenses I will be asking for the club to repay me in tickets for away games as recompense, I will still be purchasing 2 ST's for my wife and myself, if anyone has any objections to this please let me know. In the first 17 days phone and petrol has been well over £100
Let 'em Come Back Society - The first meeting took place on Wednesday, 50 people turned up, good open discussion and all committing to help out, we need more!
On a personal note - This is taking up far more time than I could ever have envisaged, I need to set out some boundaries, firstly I cant get involved in on line arguments, I just haven't got the time, I have been responding to emails normally within 4 hours I will try and respond ASAP but not longer than 48 hours, plus I can take things too personally and get the hump! So if anyone has something they want to bring up please email me with it firstname.lastname@example.org.
I regret the fact I can no longer go on line for a laugh as anything I say regarding players movements or my own views regarding managers preference could be taken the wrong way, therefore I feel it best if I stand back a bit.
12 April 2006 - Meeting with Ken Chapman
Met with him to discuss stewarding and policing, a frank and open discussion, I explained the frustration of the fans for the heavy handedness of the stewards and the heavy police presence for any incidents.
I mentioned in particular the Brighton game as I had seen a lot of "goings on" in the West Upper block 1 and East Upper block 19, I asked for him to explain how the stewarding works as to me there appeared no valid reason, he responded with the below:
Once someone has been "seen" acting inappropriately a steward is sent to have a word, if this does not resolve the issue then further stewards are engaged, if this does not solve the problem the police arrive, at which point I butted in and said yes very heavy handed, he explained that when the police attend any incident there must be 10 officers and 1 sergeant I told him this was outrageous he explained it wasn't Millwall's doing but Health & Safety regulations.
I asked him to tell me what led to the Brighton "goings on" at which point he summoned the stadium manager who produced a video showing a fan spitting at fans and throwing coins, the fan was spoken to by a steward but his father got involved and then a group of about 30 went down on the concourse to confront the stewards, it was all there in black and white (colour actually), he then showed me video of fans throwing coins from the East Upper into the Brighton fans, then 4 letters from the FA he had received since Christmas they had been sent as 4 officials at separate games had reported that they physical evidence of missiles thrown onto the pitch.
So as Fan Director what do I do? What would you do? Can this be defended? Can we self police to stop this happening? I don't know all the answers.
There are 3 laws that come into force during the game that could possibly lead to a fine or ground closure.
- Missiles hitting the pitch
- Pitch encroachment
- Drinking alcohol in view of the pitch, there he laboured are not Millwall rules but FA rules
He never said this outright but my gut feeling was the club feel the FA are out to get us one way or another, the 4 reports are still being dealt with.
Chapman agreed some of the stewards that man the games have been less than perfect, but several have been removed, we the fans need to make a note of any issues we have had, but it needs to be first hand, not what we have been told, send the instances to me and I can raise them.
I asked for the following:
- Regular meetings with stadium staff throughout the season
- A regular forum for fans to ask him and his team questions
- A break down of all "events" at the end of each game for publication to fans
All were agreed to.
I will be attending the end of season briefing with the Police in May where I will tell them who I represent and the feeling of the fans.
None of the above is my opinion it is what I have been told and shown
I also want 6-8 people to attend a meeting with Chapman when I can arrange it. If you want to get your point over to him I will arrange it. If you have any suggestions about the above email me and I will try and get your questions answered, don't shoot the messenger!
25 April 2006 - Police Meeting
I met with the police officers who are attached to Millwall for both home and away games, the meeting at Lewisham Police Station was originally planned as just an introduction, but I used it to discuss a couple of issues that fans have brought up, the Waterloo Incident/South Bermondsey station after home games/block 19.
The police started off by praising the MSC and their input both now and in the past, Bev Fen, Jim Webb, Paul Burkmar and Mick Thurbin were all mentioned as they had help build up a good relationship between the MSC and the police.
I asked why the level of policing at times was very high, it was explained that the police use all intelligence they get and make a decision game-by-game, intelligence comes from several areas including the police force of teams travelling to Millwall. I was reminded that there were more Police Free games (only Lewisham Football Officers inside the stadium) this season than ever before. If we can get to the point when there is limited police in the ground and the police used are "regulars" I think it can only improve things.
The officers I met both seemed keen to build a relationship. My personal view is there needs to be a channel into the police so issues like the Waterloo one can be discussed.
Waterloo - There were a group of Millwall (50-60) who travelled by train who caused some problems in a local pub and threatened "scarved" fans on the way to the game, when they arrived they abused the kiosk staff inside the ground therefore the kiosks were shut at half time, the kiosks shutters were damaged as they started kicking them. The police called through to Waterloo British Transport police and forewarned them of the fans who would come through. I explained that I had several letters from "normal" fans complaining of "heavy handedness" by the police at Waterloo station, the police were aware and complaints have been received from several fans, therefore a review of the incident is underway, the police will keep me informed as to how it goes, they admitted they are not perfect and different police forces have different ways of dealing with things, we all agreed that the enquiry needed to find out why "normal" fans were subject to bad treatment. I will let you all know when a get anything back from the police regards this. Anyone who was there who feels strong enough about it please complain to the police.
South Bermondsey - I have been asked why Millwall fans are sometimes kept waiting while the away fans get shipped out straight away. The decision as to who gets kept back is made on an ad hoc basis, game by game taking into account amongst other things the "mood" in the ground, although as a general rule the intention has always been to allow home fans to leave first, but there will be times when away fans must be allowed to leave first. Certain away fans caused damaged to the walkway, fans from mainly from block 19 have also attacked away fans with coins near the walkway all this has to be taken into account on a game by game basis when deciding who gets put on the platform first, some times if the away fans are let out last any Millwall fans coming late will be held back, all of this is done to stop any trouble.
Block 19 - I have been asked why the end section nearest the away end has been closed off, there have been numerous coin throwing incidents by both home and away fans, the closing of this section should to stop this, also after several games since December the police have had major problems with fans mainly from block 19 when they leave the stadium, all of this adds to the reasons for a high police presence that we can ill afford both financially and if we are to attract new fans.
5 April 2006 - First Report
First few of days have been quiet manic. Thanks for all your emails and texts of congratulations.
I had so many calls from inside and outside the club wishing me luck. I spoke with Constantine Gonticas who called to wish me the best, we spoke for quite a while, he is very knowledgeable about football and he travels to most away games. A couple of issues he emphasised to me, firstly he refuted suggestions he is here to make money for himself and that he was a self made man and if he wanted to invest to make money he could think of easier ways than with Millwall. He is purely here for the football side. He mentioned the recent rumour regards Marvin Williams going to Watford, he said "If he was I would know and I haven't heard a thing"
I am meeting him on Saturday for an informal chat, he invited my wife and I to the Directors box and Boardroom at Derby, but I declined as I prefer to be with my pals. I said I would take him up on it at some point just to experience it, he said "well you now have full Director rights and you are entitled a place in the Directors box." Blimey is this all for real! At no point during the conversation was I told "this is between me and you" the discussion was open and frank, hopefully it will stay that way.
Met with Simon Menneer, from the chairman’s office, and discussed the club at length. We discussed the list of ideas collated from all the webs sites, all ideas have been prioritised and we will be discussing these with the MSC, ones that can be completed quickly will be, others will be given timescales that we will all be working to.
Simon and myself agreed we need the help of everyone to get things moving, we are in the planning stages of setting up small regional teams of fans who will have responsibility of growing/gaining support in their region. They would arrange coach travel in, arrange to visit local schools to promote Millwall (possibly with players), carry out leaflet campaigns and call up lapsed fans to try and get them back. Fans would be rewarded by reduction in their ST should they manage to tempt people back.
Simon is very keen and I have faith he will help push all the issues through, I have spoken to him between 40-50 times during the first 3 days!! There is a lot of posturing going on and once it all settles down I think I will get to get a real feel for everyone and see if the momentum carries on.
I asked club to try and arrange for senior pros to attend the Junior Lions quiz night on Friday, I had a response within an hour advising, the players will be travelling up to Derby on Friday night so this time it will not be possible, but in future it will be arranged for players to attend.
I have been asked to put a piece in the SLP for Friday, Southwark News, TLR, NOLU, Lions Live and Lions World just for starters.
One thing I must add, this wont happen overnight, but we will keep chipping away!
It is a lot more intense than I thought, hopefully I will be able to delegate a bit on Thursday at the MSC meeting.
Millwall Supporters Club, c/o The Den,
London SE16 3LN -
phone: 07895 022 325 - email: email@example.com