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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 January 2017

Millwall FC move threat: Defend the Den - 'wall not Renewal

Millwall FC's home ground the Den in Lewisham, south London is under threat photo

Millwall FC's home ground the Den in Lewisham, south London is under threat photo   (Click to enlarge)

James Kerr, Millwall supporter

"We fear no foe", emblazoned on the back of the Millwall shirt, originates from an early giant-killing spree in the FA Cup. Despite progression to the fourth round, the real foes have been off the pitch recently.

Millwall's ground, the Den, could be forced from Lewisham, south London, to Kent. A major new development around the ground is being built by Renewal - a company registered in a tax haven, run by a former council officer, and which used to count the former mayor of Lewisham as a director.

The Labour council should call time on this partnership, and ensure the development is built for the community, including sufficient social housing.

The council has to issue a compulsory purchase order (CPO) on land owned by Millwall FC to free it up for Renewal's use. The land includes the Lions' Centre, an important community asset.

The mayor and cabinet were due to decide on the CPO last week, but again postponed. An amended motion was passed at Lewisham Deptford Labour Party against the CPO, showing the splits within local Labour.

When US businessman John Berylson bought Millwall, he made it clear that if he didn't make money out of the football side of the business, his failsafe would be real estate.

While his interests may dovetail with supporters' in keeping the club in SE16, he will make decisions based on his business dealings.

Local MP Vicky Foxcroft declared she wants to get the club, council and Renewal around the table to broker a 'compromise'. Where is the voice of supporters and local residents within this?

The Association of Millwall Supporters has the potential to play that role and coordinate a campaign to force the council's hand. It has even floated the idea of standing candidates in the 2018 local elections if the CPO goes ahead.

After more than 100 years in Lewisham, it's vital we defend the Den.

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In The Socialist 18 January 2017:


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