A leading town hall chief has appealed for the warring parties to talk after a decision to grab land from Millwall was postponed.
Lewisham’s cabinet had been due to confirm it wanted to seize land around the club’s ground, The Den, tonight.
But the meeting was postponed with 24 hours’ notice after the club wrote to councillors spelling out the threat to its academy and community scheme – as revealed exclusively in yesterday’s South London Press.
English Football League rules dictate the club cannot move the Lions Centre to a planned leisure centre nearby in Stockholm Road; and if the club does not agree to it, the Millwall Community Scheme cannot carry the club badge.
Now the borough’s Labour scrutiny committee chairman Cllr Alan Hall said after the delay – the fourth time the vote has been postponed after attempts in February, September and December: “Lewisham council must seize the offer of talks with both hands for the sake of its reputation, its residents and Millwall FC.”
Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh said in a letter to councillors on Monday: “Moving the Lions Centre to Energise will not satisfy the requirements the rules impose on us. It is therefore almost certain we will lose our Category Two academy status and damage our ability to talented youth footballers.
“I have not had any contact with council officers to discuss these critical issues.
“I would welcome the chance to meet with you to explain the issues – or at least have a phone conversation.”
The council has said the meeting will be rescheduled for early next month.
Kavanagh has already said the land grab would put Millwall’s future in jeopardy and could see the League One club forced to move to Kent.
The Lions have played in Lewisham since 1910 and at current ground, The Den, since 1993.
Millwall chairman John Berylson previously said the club wanted to develop its own land and build facilities, apartments, a hotel and retail outlets to “future-proof” the club with regular income.
At the club’s annual general meeting last month, he said the plans could see the club lose its land and its landlord, and added: “If we don’t get the necessary licences, we can’t operate, it’s as simple as that.”
More than 27,000 people have signed an online petition against the proposals.
Developers Renewal previously said the plans would create 2,000 jobs.
Director Jordana Malik said the firm’s vision was to incorporate a successful, self-sustaining football club at the heart of the development.