I’m writing this column feeling a tremendous amount of excitement mixed with relief following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night.
Nobody could have expected that it would take the best part of 16 months from the first lockdown back in March 2020 to now before we were able to look forward to a return to normal life again and we’re absolutely ecstatic at what it means for you, the supporters, and for the club in general.
As I’ve said on multiple occasions since behind-closed-doors football began, we have missed you terribly, as I know you have the team, the stadium, your fellow Lions and more, and it is with so much elation and emotion that we can now prepare for your imminent return in August.
Being able to do so without restrictions on the size of the crowd is a welcome relief and our thanks again go to all those of you – close to 7,000 – who have purchased season tickets already. Staff have recently been calling fans who are yet to renew, and the overwhelming majority of feedback was that many of you were waiting for an update from the government, so we hope last night’s announcement has provided that necessary reassurance. As we build up to the new season we will continue to engage and liaise with supporters and keep everyone updated with the latest information around your return to matches as and when these are finalised.
We’re expecting further guidance from the EFL and other bodies in the coming days and hope to be able to go on sale with tickets for the first few matches of the new campaign soon.
Staff at The Den have been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic in preparation for your return to games, whenever that proved to be, and I too am very pleased for them now we’re able to hone in on plans for August. It would be wrong of me to not recognise the staff’s hard work and effort but thankfully most of the plans will be consigned to the bin!
The past 16 months has provided us with an opportunity to assess operations throughout the club, especially those on matchdays, and we will inform supporters about any changes to what you’ve been used to over the years in the weeks ahead.
It feels like the chance for a fresh start with everything that we do and I hope you will all help us in ensuring your matchday experience, from the moment you arrive to the time you exit the stadium gates, is as enjoyable as possible. I have to be realistic and concede that there is likely to be some teething problems during those early fixtures and so your feedback, and patience, will be important in order to ensure we can iron out any issues after so long without normal fixtures.
We have been delighted with how well screenings of England’s European Championships matches at The Den have been received. The atmosphere generated at all of them has been superb and the events have been more or less entirely sold out, which has been excellent, and of course we desperately hope to be able to host one more after tomorrow’s Semi-Final this coming Sunday night.
Our first handful of Open Mornings here at The Den have also been a huge success. The aim is to bring fans and local residents together (some are of course both) in order to socialise again after living under restrictions for so long. The tea, coffee and cake is free and so please do pop in on Wednesday mornings between 9.30am-12.30pm.
Elsewhere, I’m pleased to be able to confirm that we will be launching our new home kit next week. We have not been able to do so yet because of a delay in its delivery, which was outside of the club’s control, but thankfully we can now push ahead with its release. The away kit should follow relatively soon after.
As for first-team matters, we’re pleased to have been able to conclude what will be the majority of our transfer business by day three of pre-season training and my thanks go to everyone who has contributed to the processes involved in doing so.
I hope you’re all excited by the improvements made to the squad in recent weeks and trust that you’ll support the team as well as you’ve ever done in order to help drive the club forward during the season ahead.
I’d like to take this opportunity to continue to plug my upcoming charity cycle ride one final time. I’m raising money for Prostate Cancer UK and there is still time to donate if you haven’t already. So many of you have been so immensely generous already, helping us get to over £7,500 already, a large chunk of which is coming from Millwall fans, Directors and sponsors, so I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m genuinely touched by the support and messages being left. We set off from The Den next Thursday and would love to get to £10,000 raised for a charity which I hold dear. Please donate by clicking here.
Finally, and as mentioned above, we will keep you all updated with more information relating to your return to matches as and when we have it so please keep your eyes peeled both on the website and our social media channels. This will include details of a Fans’ Forum ahead of the start of 2021/22 which I hope to see many of you at.
Come on England!