Fan on the Board Reports - 2008

20 November 2008

Well another month gone and Kenny and the team are averaging two points per game. After the frustrations of the last few seasons hopefully we can continue the good performances and be there or thereabouts at Christmas to keep the challenge going for a top six or even automatic promotion place. Everyone must agree for the current squad that is not mission impossible.

We are also through to the second round of the FA Cup against Aldershot at home after eventually grinding down a determined Chester team and letting our class show in the last 20 minutes of the game. Chris Hackett came off the bench to put in the crosses for two of the three goals while Neil Harris added another to his tally and is now only one away from equaling Teddy's record of 111 goals in all competitions. Let's hope he gets it and makes the record 150 +.

The entire team also showed what grit and determination they have against a strong Stockport team who, before the game were unbeaten away from home this season. The referee spoiled what was a good battle between two teams giving their all. It was a full blooded game, it wasn't dirty in any way, but the referee still managed to book nine players. Neil Harris and Tony Craig deserve a special mention for their craft during the game, Alan Dunne played his first full home game for a while and slotted in without any fuss, but we can be proud of the entire team.

At the Chester game due to prearranged business and holiday commitments I was the only board member able to attend in an official capacity, a very proud moment for me. Jeff Burnige came along with me so I was able to relax and enjoy it knowing I had him and his boardroom experience close by. This also goes to show that the Fan Director position is being taken seriously and not like at some clubs, just a gimmick.

The recent good fortune and confidence at the club isn't just evident with the first team. The reserves and youth teams are also enjoying resurgence, the reserves beating Chelsea 3-1 and the youth team winning their second round FA Youth Cup tie 5-1 after being 4-0 up in 30 minutes.
I spent a lot of time with John Berylson and Demos Kouvaris at the Scunthorpe game. We all agreed that the easiest and quickest way for them to recoup their investment is for the team to be successful on the pitch. Promotion and a successful team will bring the financial stability we all want, Kenny Jackett's team is capable of it as well.

The club has announced its 13 month financial results they which show a deficit of £6.1m to the end of June. We are no different from other clubs. There are not many who actually make a profit. Moves have been made at the club to reduce outgoings and bring in new revenue. The playing staff is an area that needs to maintain a level of investment if we want success. When the success comes I hope it brings along with it all the lapsed fans we have, as adding to our current average gate will obviously have a positive impact on the bottom line figure.

The fact that the board has allowed the deficit to grow slightly is a credit to their determination to succeed. With several players out of favour or injured, it would have been easy for the board to have rejected any requests by Kenny for new players to keep the costs down. The board supported Kenny and subsequently the wage bill increased. Obviously In July many players will be out of contract which will allow Kenny to reduce the wage bill should he wish to do so.

There has been rumour after rumour about Kenny joining other clubs. The actual position is that Kenny is committed to succeed at Millwall. Kenny is an honest pro and should anything change the club would be the first to know. As always any questions drop me a line.

Pete.


13 October 2008

20 points in 10 games if we carry on the season with the same ratio we will end up with 92 points that would do for me!

The MK Dons game was such a disappointment but it may have been a blessing in disguise, a reality check, how can we go from 5 straight wins to losing 4-0 at home, everyone has their ideas, a lot of players had a "bad day at the office", my view is that the we all built the game up so much that we were only ever going to lose it, with Oldham losing the night before and Leeds losing that morning I was calculating in my head how many points we would be clear at the top, now if I think that way other people may players included, perhaps the players thought the game was there for the taking and didn't go into it with the same grit and determination they have in every other game this season, well at least we have bounced back and now can go into the Leeds game in a confident mood. The build up for the 1st goal at Tranmere was the best play I have seen in the last 3 years 10 passes of the one touch variety, long may it continue, it was great hearing people singing "we've got our Millwall back" after years of singing "we want our Millwall back" times are changing!

The MK Dons game threw up a few issues, firstly it showed that winning games brings back fans, no matter how much you spend on fancy marketing the best way to get fans through the turnstiles is playing good football and winning games, it was such a shame that we had such a big build up and good crowd for the MK Dons game, the result really soured it.

Due to the increase in the crowd it obviously put pressure on the ticket office and the catering, both issues were brought up with the club by both the MSC and myself, on the ticketing the explanation given was the large walk up (3000 +), the late arrival of many people and the Leeds tickets being on sale at the same time, now the late walk up will always be an issue unless people turn up earlier, our walk up is one on the biggest in all leagues as most other clubs sell the majority of their tickets well in advance, the club are currently looking at several new ticketing system to replace the current one hopefully that will have an impact on the current length of queuing for big crowd games.

As for the catering, there were complaints of a kiosk in the East Stand running out of certain items during the game, the stock sheets have been checked and the caterers have admitted they were at fault, Andy Ambler will try and ensure it doesn't happen again its in nobody's interest to run out as it is lost revenue and stops people using the kiosks, I have asked for feedback forms to be left near the kiosks so the caterers can get feedback, Andy A is waiting for the catering company to arrange this.

Another problem from the game was brought to me by Kenny Jackett and the board, during the game against MK Dons when we were 2-0 down fans in the West Lower (north stand end) decided to keep the ball every time it went into the crowd, at 2-0 Kenny still thought we could get a result, keeping the ball in the crowd stops any momentum our team may have, it gives the opposition time to regroup, all in all it doesn't do our team any good, some people may see it as a laugh but Kenny and the team don't, we all want Kenny and the boys to keep winning and help them with our support as much as possible, so can I ask that if the ball does come into the crowd its gets thrown back straight away.

Also, I have had several letters of complaint regarding swearing in the family enclosure not by children but adults, the club will never condone bad language especially in the family enclosure, the family enclosure needs to be an area where people can take children without bad language or bad behaviour, so if you sit in there try and be mindful of other people especially children, what we don't want is to have a heavy steward presence in the family enclosure.

There were reports in the national press regarding Millwall moving to the Olympic stadium after the Olympic games, this was a pure rumour and lazy journalism, the club were asked for input on how we run the community scheme and how the club tries to integrate with the local community, the press changed this into Millwall moving to the 2012 stadium.

Let's hope we get a good crowd and for the Leeds game, a good performance and the right result, if we are going to do anything this season we need to beat teams like Leeds, so let's all get behind the team and be that 12th player and try and make it like the old Den!

Finally we have now been at the ground since 1992, the MSC and myself have been discussing with the club the possibility of naming one of the stands after and old player, the idea is currently in its infancy so if you have any suggestions write to either the MSC or me.

Pete.


30 September 2008 - Pete's Rallying Cry

Fan on the board Pete Garston shares his thoughts about what has been a very good month for The Lions:

Well, five wins on the trot - not five games undefeated, five wins!

Kenny has slowly gone about his business. He has bought/loaned well, played players out of position and got them to play well, made good substitutions and changed the formation when needed.

The whole management and playing staff seem to be oozing confidence and our support especially away at Leicester and Swindon was amazing.

The last time we won six games was in the middle of the 1999/2000 season when we reached the Play-Offs in this division, and the previous time was when we were promoted to the top flight for the first time in our history back in 1988.

When I explained this to John Berylson he decided that he would come over to see the MK Dons game. He is flying out just for the match with his son.
Now I moan when I have to leave at 12 o'clock to get to the ground for a meeting prior to the game!

He pays for the flights himself which isn't cheap and travels 8000 miles so anyone who tries to say he isn't committed needs committing to the madhouse.

KJ came to the board and asked for striker cover and the chairman agreed straight away even though there was a large cost involved.

I just hope the commitment JB is showing can be matched by those fans that have stopped coming for one reason or another.

The teams are on a run that could potentially see us there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

KJ has told me that we all need to be together in supporting the team and that support is partly responsible for the success we have been getting.

So let's all get behind the team this Saturday, let's get a few pals down with us, as the better the atmosphere the more chance we have of getting the six on the spin.

Let's show our commitment as JB continues to do.

Pete.


27 August 2008

Apologies for the lack of reports the last month or so, what with a long holiday and work I have been pretty busy and haven't had time to collate everything I've been doing into a report. I will try and get them out every month from now on.

I also intend to post a weekly statement. I hope to ask Kenny a question after each game, one that maybe hasn't been covered in his post match interviews.

The close season is meant to be pretty quiet but not with us, GFL was prominent in all our minds and the future of our club seemed to be in doubt once again, John Berlyson promised me personally he would stick by us through thick and thin and he has stuck to his word. The result of the vote was a resounding victory for John and the board. I personally feel the club is now in a stronger position as the GFL battle caused JGB and other directors to convert their loans into shares. This means the club are in less debt and less interest payments will be going out. Bob Asprey, Nick Hart, the MSC, the Lions Trust and many, many more fans need to be thanked for their support during this time. It was great to see us all sticking together. That's what makes Millwall so unique.

We also had the resignation of Jeff Burnige. Jeff is really part of the fixtures and fittings at Millwall, his shock of grey hair has been blowing in the wind for as long as I have been going. I really don't think we have seen the last of Jeff either, he will remain the first port of call for me when I need answers regarding Millwall history. Stewart Till has also stood down due to the pressure of his new business project. I hope it takes off for him as I know how much he has put into it. He has managed to juggle both roles for quite a while but feels he cannot give 100% to the club at the moment. He will continue to attend games and complete a few projects he has ongoing at the club.

The decision to change the youth policy from Academy to Centre of Excellence status is the biggest decision taken by the club for a long while. Only time will tell if it is the right one. In 3-4 years if we have a good crop of youngsters coming through it will have been vindicated. The decision was based on a lack of quality players coming through considering the financial input into the Academy, with young player s being poached by the big clubs and Millwall powerless to stop them. It does have its bad points, but put the choices to a young player of Millwall or Liverpool, unless you are a dedicated fan as well as a scholar there is very little doubt which way you will go. Kenny Jacket has managed to pick up Dave Martin and Lewis Grabban from Palace. This is another way we can get young players in, players who can't break into other club's first team on a regular basis. All in all, the decision to move to a Centre of Excellence was a very brave one which has split opinion among us, let's hope it is the right one! I know all fans will want to get behind Scott Fitzgerald who has been given the task of running the Centre and wish him the best for the future.
There has been a lot of misinformation regarding Richard Sadlier and his testimonial/benefit game, I arranged a meeting prior to the Southend game between Sads, Andy Ambler and myself to see if we could get somewhere closer to arranging a game. The club has always been open to helping Sads, but the problem has been getting the calibre of opposition that would draw a fair crowd to ensure he gets a decent pay day. The club is willing to do all we can. Andy Ambler has already met with the police because policing on the day will obviously have a bearing on the financial outcome. Andy hopes our good relationship with the police will enable us to keep those costs to a minimum. Sads is looking for a quality team for us to play at The Den and is hopeful he can get someone possibly for pre-season next year, I will be keeping in touch with Sads and keep everyone informed as soon as I have any further info.

Kenny Jackett has gone about his business very quietly, bringing in a lot of young players to compliment the experience we already have. Many people keep asking me when KJ will buy the 20 goal a season striker we need. All I can say is KJ knows what he wants, the chairman has made it clear to KJ that if we are one player away from a promotion winning side funds will be made available. KJ picks the team and the players he brings in, if he doesn't bring in a striker for instance it is because he is happy with what he has got, and with the budget he has available to him cannot improve on the current squad. The frustrating thing is behind the scenes the football management team are always looking at players. Just because nothing is made public does not mean nothing is going on, Kenny Jackett is not one to broadcast signings until they are completed. Every manager does it a different way and prior to Kenny's arrival information was fairly free flowing and always found its way into the public domain. This can only help to inflate players' prices by warning clubs of our interest.

Dockers' Day has been a great success and hopefully this season will be no different. This year's Dockers' Day is scheduled to take place on Saturday 21st February when we play Brighton at home, Chris Bethell, as always, is arranging a team from the past to attend, and this year is targeting the team from the late 70's, The day is financed jointly, the club supplying the seats and hospitality, we the fans supply the medals for the dockers. We have managed to use the money raised at the first Dockers' Day to pay for the second. We are looking for a sponsor to pay for this season's medals, a single fan, a company or a group of fans. The cost is between £200-300. If you can help, drop me a line.

If you look at the top of the East and West Stands you will now see new flags flying. The flags were not seen as a priority in the current financial climate at the club, but I managed to get the club and MSC to pay half each to make sure our club flag and St George's Cross fly above our ground.

Also flying proudly is the flag of our new sponsors CYC. Having met them all I can vouch for their Millwallness. They are as ardent and passionate fans as you will find.

Catering, ticketing, stewarding, smoking, shopping, seating, junior lions, swearing to list just a few are possible issues that can raise their head during match day. Unless people write in and complain either to myself or the MSC there is nothing we can do. For instance - the catering. I have had only one letter of complaint, the MSC as part of their monthly meeting with the club have met with the caterers and as there had been no complaints it was deemed everything is ok. Please, if you have issues, take the time to write in with all the details you can.

I am running a number of meetings during the season, all at the club, covering the issues that fans want to bring up so drop me a line if you are interested and I will sort it out.

Finally football! Three games in and two points on the board, I think we all expected more going into the season. The Oldham result was a bitter pill to swallow, especially as in my opinion the sending-off was very dubious. Once again Lee Hughes turned the game, Oldham now have a 100% record after three matches so they look a good side.

I always try to look at the positive in anything - we are now two games unbeaten. I have seen some good individual performances and I hope in the next few games we will see more impressive team displays. We are only three points away from the Play-Offs and seven off of the top spot!!!

Pete


11 July 2007

Just got back from hols.

Just after I left for my holiday I saw the email from Nick Hart on HoF regards a meeting with the club to discuss the regen, as I explained to Nick in my reply I had already agreed to this meeting with Heather and John Berylson prior to leaving, it was a matter of arranging a date that was convenient, at a time when there would be new information available and then asking for people who wanted to attend on my return.

The points I differ with are that any meeting needs to be organised and attended by either Bob Asprey or myself as fan elected representatives and any meeting should be open to all Millwall fans, when I have a firm date I will advertise it on all sites also involve non internet based fans that I am I touch with via email and post, it would be nice to get people who have not yet attended previous meetings, those who have experience in any aspect of regeneration and perhaps fans who have an alternate view rather than the majority view this would obviously enable open debate.

I would hope Nick would also want to attend as he has a way of putting the spoken word onto paper without losing the point which is his strong point.
We also need to keep together rather than split into smaller groups I believe that is where our strength lies.

I have spoken with both Heather and John Berylson at length this week, they have updated me fully on progress, it is pointless arranging a meeting until there is something concrete to say, the meeting will take place early to mid September when more concrete information should be available.

I realise that date is a couple of months away and probably not what people want to hear, but I feel it is best to be up front about this. If anything happens before that I will make sure I announce it as early as I can, I do have to work within certain guidelines and use discretion, I must admit personally it will be nice to have a couple of months when we can focus on the football side of things.

Bob and the MSC have already arranged a Fans Forum in August.

Pete


8 April 2008 - John Berylson v Graham Ferguson-Lacey

It appears that the battle lines are being drawn, the only problem I can see is that any forthcoming battle will be fought over the future of our club so what does it all mean to us? Who do we back? I can only give you the facts I have been given and give you my view on things. I am pretty sure there are more questions than answers. I think it is imperative our support goes firmly behind what is best for Millwall. I have said it before Millwall will never be owned by any one individual as we the fans will always own it.

Graham Ferguson Lacey

  • GFL has been offered a position on both the holding and FC board several times(which he is entitled to) but he hasn’t taken up the offer, I would have thought rather than calling for an EGM he should take up the position and raise any concerns during board meetings.
  • Has had the same opportunities to put his views over as Berylson but hasn’t bothered to.
  • I believe by his actions he has made it clear he has no interest in the football side of things; the fact that he has decided to call an EGM at a time when the board, club and fans are focused on a relegation battle proves this.
  • Blocked the clubs motion to be able to raise further monies during the season, again one must ask why?

John Berylson

  • Has supported the team both in person and financially, a commitment of 8 million.
  • Has stepped up to help when asked.
  • Has made his view perfectly clear publicly that he wants what’s best for Millwall FC, although the regeneration is a big part of his plans, financing the football club with any monies forthcoming playing a part in these plans.
  • Has made efforts to meet fans at formal meetings and during ad hoc meetings on matchdays.

The above does seem one sided but I can only give you the information I have.

My personal view is that John Berylson is committed to this football club. He has publicly stated the “Den” is sacrosanct and the only time he would envisage us moving is if there was a need for a bigger stadium. I speak with him at least 3 times a week and he is always interested on what is happening on a day to day basis. Taking into account all the information I have and the relationship I have built up with John Berylson over the last 2 years, leads me to trust that John is totally committed to Millwall and the future of our football club, therefore I throw my support firmly behind John Berylson on behalf of the majority of supporters, this will give us a united front of the Millwall Supporters Club, Lions Trust and the Fan on the Board.

If anyone has any information they feel will help email me.

Pete.


4 April 2008

It has been a manic time behind the scenes at Millwall over the last month, the 2 great away wins at Yeovil and Swansea have been overshadowed by some bad results leaving us with our heads just above the relegation zone, the game on Saturday is crucial and could shape where we end up at the end of the season.

As you all know I have been lucky enough to get the FOTB role for a further 3 years, now the result has been announced the club have started inviting me to the Holdings meetings, these are very interesting, but at times I wish I didn't know all I do, recently I have had sleepless nights especially about our financial situation, John Berylson has today put his money where his mouth is and committed further monies to keep us going for the future, with teams all around us going into administration this is a brave move by John and we the fans should give him the support I feel he deserves , he has made this commitment at a time when the team are in such a bad league position, this has confirmed what I have always thought that John Berylson is here not only for the regeneration but for the football, John has given me his word he will not leave the club in a worse position that he found it, he is desperate for success and feels with Millwall and Kenny Jackett he will get this in the next few years.

There has been a lot of discussions about us going into administration, John’s financial commitment shows he won't take the easy route, he will take the route the not only helps him but the route that benefits Millwall football club.

All areas of the club are being looked into regards making savings one area being the Academy; Andy Ambler is investigating all areas to see where we can eat into the huge monthly deficit. Kenny Jacket has a lot of experience in youth football and Joe Little has a lot of fresh ideas, so there is a lot of experience and good ideas at youth level, the question that needs answering is do we have an academy or a school of excellence, the club will always have a youth policy it is just how it is branded, the main difference I can see, is an academy team plays the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham as opposed to Swindon, Brentford and lower league teams, there are pros and cons, an academy may attract better young players who are attracted at the possibility of playing Arsenal and the likes, the downside, other than the cost involved is that premiership teams can see any quality players we have and poach them as what happened with David Amoo, Sam Walker and Tom Kilbey, the club can try hard to keep these players but when the players see the chance of a move premiership team it is hard to keep them. Discussions and fact finding are on going over the next couple of months, no decision has been made, once I know any further information I will let everyone know, or if you have any thoughts or ideas drop me a line.
As always any questions/queries write to me c/o the club or email direct.

Pete.


5 March 2008

Thanks for all your emails and messages of congratulations and support throughout my first 2 years.

It's a great feeling to know I am the only person on the board who has been elected by the fan base and is there to represent their views.
I have tried to make sure I haven't lost focus on why I was elected and the fact I represent the majority fan view and not my own.
Here are some achievements I feel I have made:

  • Arranged regular meetings with the club for all fans.
  • Review of banning orders and reinstatement if original ban invalid.
  • The introduction of the annual "Dockers Day" event.
  • Explanation where possible, of reasoning behind board decisions.
  • Advised the board of the majority fan view regards potential managers.
  • Reached a compromise regards "roaring lion" logo.
  • Attended meetings with the FA.
  • Input majority fan view on strategic club policy.
  • Generated much needed funds for the Lionesses.
  • Instigated meetings between the Junior Lions & the MSC.
  • Instigated meetings between the Junior Lions and board members.
  • Contributed to unprecedented influence fans have at Millwall FC.
  • Bridged a huge divide between fans and club (work in progress).
  • Moulded the role into something that is acceptable and of value for both fans and club.
  • On average attended 2-3 club meetings per month during working hours.

I have tried to attend as many games as I can during my tenure missing only 3 (and no I don't get expenses!)

From the day I started I have always given it my all and never taken for granted the faith put in me by others, I will continue to do so, I hope should I ever start taking it for granted people will pull me up.

I have had 95% good feedback from people which really helps but I am aware there is still a long way to go to get the club we all love into a good position regards the relationship and treatment between the club and us the fans, there have been many improvements but we all know there is room for many more, there are only a small group of fan volunteers at the MSC, Junior Lions and Lionesses who work tirelessly week in week out for very little thanks and no reward other than being part of the club and helping others so when you think that’s a good idea or the club should be doing this and that why not put yourself forward to help as the more involved the quicker things will get done. If anyone thinks I am not doing the job as I should, within the terms of reference they need to contact the MSC and let them know, I am always open to constructive criticism and ideas as to how I can do things better, if you ever have any questions/ideas please let me know.

Thanks to all the people who would have voted for me, all the people who I ring up for hours on end to get advice. We have all in our time been very sceptical about the board and their "agenda" well my perception of working closely with them over the last 18 months is that they are all desperate for the club to do well, they are learning by their mistakes and listening to us more and more, I must reiterate that all I can do is take our views to the board, this isn't a guarantee they will be taken on board and acted on, at times our view will be listened to, when it is not I can only bring back the answers and reason why, it's not spin or lies its facts.

One thing we all need to remember is that no matter what position people hold on the board or how much money they put in they will never own the club as the club will always belong to us the fans.

I can't finish without thanking my family especially my wife Linda for being so understanding of the time I spend carrying out the role and realising how much doing this means to me.

Believe me it's more than just football!

Pete.


5 January 2008

Hi all,

Things seem to be settling down at last lets hope its long term, not a lot to report.

Bannings
There has been a number of banning order appeals in the last month, 4 have been upheld with 1 still going through the process, although I am hopeful this will be as well.

Loan signings
Kenny Jackett has been given a budget to strengthen the squad, him and his team have been working flat out to finalise deals, one thing I can say is KJ is very astute, he is knows what he wants and what we should be paying, I am confident he will only bring players to Millwall that will add value to the current squad, he is a strong believer in discretion and play his cards close to his chest as he feel s it puts the club in a much stronger negotiating position, I wish I could give you a list of players but I cant.
We all must have noticed the way the team are digging deep to get the results, I was worried we would struggle during December due to the long list of first teamers injured, W6 D2 L3 is a good start to the Jackett era lets hope he can build on it and give us the success we deserve and have been starved of for so long!

Upcoming Election
My term as FOTB ends at the end of the season, it has been a very eventful 18 months and really opened my eyes to the internal workings of my beloved Millwall.

Meeting with the cCub
I have been asking for people to get in touch with me if they want to come in a have a meeting with a member of the board, the offer is still open just get in touch petergarston@hotmail.com

Dockers Day
Chris Bethel and myself have arranged a further "Dockers Day" where we celebrate our clubs history and heritage, our nickname prior to 1903 was "the dockers" so we need to make sure our history isn’t forgotten, we want any old dockers to write in a letter with a short overview of how it was to be a docker and follow Millwall, some of the stories from the last one were hilarious, so if you or any one in your family are dockers get them to drop us a letter c/o the club, the best letters selected will be invited to a VIP day at the Den on Feb 23rd when we play Port Vale, we hope to have the majority of the 59 unbeaten run team in attendance as well.

We have several places left for this so get in touch if you have a family member who would like to attend.

As always any questions/queries write to me c/o the club or email direct.

Pete


 

Millwall Supporters Club, c/o The Den, Zampa Road, London SE16 3LN  -  phone: 07895 022 325  -  email: info@millwallsupportersclub.co.uk

 


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