John Berylson encapsulates the regen issues
“We have been shocked and disappointed to find out that, despite our protests, Lewisham Council has taken steps to sell two parcels of land adjoining The Den which are currently leased to the Club. The Council is also intending to sell The Lions Centre next door to The Den which is occupied by the Millwall Community Scheme.
We are very concerned about the long term future of our community scheme. Although the Council and Renewal can match our offer of a new home and new sports facilities, only we can guarantee the financial support and access to the Football League funding on which it depends.
The three areas are to be sold to Renewal Limited, a private developer, as part of the Surrey Canal Triangle regeneration – despite Millwall’s continual and firm expressions of interest to acquire and develop the land adjoining its stadium.
We are fans of the scheme to regenerate the Surrey Canal Triangle. We have supported it and we want to play our part in it. It has been suggested that we do not have the resources at our disposal to undertake these developments. That is simply not the case. Chestnut Hill Ventures, the largest shareholder in Millwall, has very considerable resources which are more than a match for a private property developer.
We also recognise the significant commercial opportunities that could transform our Club.
The long term survival of Millwall Football Club will depend on our ability to generate non-football revenues to help us through the inevitable ups and downs of life as a professional football club. Football is what we know, and football is what we do. The Deputy Mayor of Lewisham recently referred to us as property developers. I think he knows very well that we don’t undertake property developments. Chestnut Hill Ventures has engaged a team of top professionals who have managed property developments of this size in order to strengthen the Club’s finances.
Despite football being core to the Council’s stated strategy for the Borough, Millwall Football Club has been repeatedly excluded from the regeneration project.
Early in 2013, Millwall engaged a top architect to develop a scheme to maintain the land required for the safe operation of the Club and to provide the opportunity for the generation of non-football income.
Our scheme is consistent with the overall plans for the development of the Surrey Canal Triangle. The Club’s development plans were presented to the Council last August but they declined to consider them and we now learn that the Council never even showed them to Renewal.
Neither would the Council tell us what commercial terms they required for the purchase of the three areas of land around our stadium that are for sale."
John Berylson, Millwall Chairman