Millwall boss John Berylson has confirmed he has kicked off the search for a new home, in the event plans to seize some of the club’s land are resurrected.
The chairman said he had “already taken steps to investigate alternative sites” as there were “clear indications” Lewisham Council would try once again to seize land used by the club.
Earlier this year, Lewisham performed a U-turn on plans to compulsory purchase land used by Millwall for its community trust, youth academy, car park and café to sell to developer Renewal for its New Bermondsey scheme.
An independent inquiry was launched by Lord John Dyson after concerns were raised over Lewisham’s and Renewal’s conduct – but the former Supreme Court judge cleared them of any wrongdoing.
In a statement released on Tuesday, December 12, Lions chief Berylson revealed he had written to Lord Dyson to question why he “had chosen to ignore some of our evidence, had evidence from other sources that we had never seen and on which we had had no chance to comment, and why he did not address some of the concerns expressed by those who do not support Lewisham’s approach to New Bermondsey”.
“If it is true that Lewisham Council remains intent on the use of CPOs – in spite of Lewisham Labour’s elected mayoral candidate, Damien Egan, publicly stating that he opposed such a move – to seize the leases on the land around The Den in order to sell the freeholds of that land to Renewal, then we will continue to defend our position robustly,” he said in the statement.
“We remain firmly in favour of the development of the site adjoining our stadium and we reconfirm our wish to be a participant in that project for the overall benefit of this community.”
“I am being asked with mounting concern whether it is true that we are considering a move from Lewisham Borough,” he continued.
“While I should emphasise that this is emphatically not our preferred option, I must confirm that we are obliged to give this our full consideration and have already taken steps to investigate alternative sites with relevant third parties.
“It will be extremely difficult to see a long-term future in a borough where our local authority is unhelpful and hostile to us and where a property developer has preferential treatment and seems intent on acting against our best interests.”
In response, senior Lewisham Council cabinet spokesperson Councillor Chris Best said: “Now Lord Dyson’s independent inquiry report has been published we urge all parties involved in the New Bermondsey development to work together to agree a way forward to bring much-needed new jobs and homes to the area and ensure Millwall FC stays in Lewisham.
“We are proud that Millwall Football Club has called Lewisham home since 1910 and want them to stay here for generations to come.
“That’s why we let the football stadium to the club on a 150-year lease until June 24, 2143.”
To read John Berylson’s statement in full online, www.millwallfc.co.uk/news/2017/december/club-statement/