Commenting on plans by Labour-run Lewisham Council to this week agree the compulsory purchase of land used by Millwall Football Club at The Den for sale to a private developer, Liberal Democrat party leader Tim Farron said:
“Football clubs are a crucial part of British society and are at the heart of our communities. Aside from what happens on the pitch, clubs create jobs, often support local initiatives and are a boost to local economies.
“Whilst I am a Blackburn Rovers fan, I know how heartbreaking it would be for Millwall’s fans and the local community if their club was forced to move against their wishes. The details of this case seem quite extraordinary and I hope that the Council don’t take actions that could risk the club’s future in the area.
“Fans often worry about the impact a change of owner may have on their club’s future. They shouldn’t have to worry that a club’s own local council would have a profound, unwanted impact.
“Sometimes fans and clubs want – or need – to move ground, or change how they operate, but this should be done with the fans having their say. This is why the Liberal Democrats want to see recognised ‘Supporter Trusts’ and fans should have input into major decisions affecting their clubs.
“We need to reclaim the people’s game. Football is more than just a sporting contest and it is time that was recognised.”
Simon Hughes, Bermondsey MP for over thirty years and now a trustee of the Millwall Community Trust and the independent Director of the London Football Association, said:
"However embarrassing it might be for the Lewisham mayor and councillors to change their minds, they should stop the compulsory purchase plan now if they have any understanding of the benefits Millwall FC and Millwall Community Trust bring to the people of Lewisham and Southwark.
"I am asking Lewisham Cabinet members in the strongest terms to talk to Millwall, not threaten them.
“Lewisham Council should be supporting their borough's biggest sporting asset, not putting the local future of the Club and the Trust at risk."