‘You need to talk posh in the boardroom, and proper geezer to the fans’

BY CALUM FRASER
calum@slpmedia.co.uk

Millwall’s fan on the board says he is happy to meet with Charlton fans interested in bringing the position back to SE7.

But, Micky Simpson has warned any possible counterpart against taking advantage of the perks of the job.

The 42-year-old said: “The thing is, I am a football fan first, I am not a prawn sandwich sort of supporter.

“I like sitting in the stands, calling people names, shouting at the ref and the players. You can’t do that in the directors’ box.

“It’s the best way to find out the fans’ views and to know their experience. Like how disabled fans are being affected.

“Or what it is like for women or kids at games. I’ve got two kids, I take them to the football. You don’t want to take kids to an area if it’s full of smoke or where there are loads of fellas drinking and being loud.”

Mr Simpson succeeded Pete Garston to the fan on the board role in March last year. Mr Garston had held the position since it was brought in by Millwall chairman Peter De Savary in 2006.

Mr Simpson said: “If any one of the Charlton lot wanted to talk to me about it, and come down to see what I do, I’ve got no issues in speaking to anyone about it.

“For someone to be able to move forward with Charlton, they need to be able to get all the rival factions together and fight as one. If they can do that, it is a worthwhile position.

“There’s not much of a rivalry between Millwall and Charlton, they just can’t beat us. We like the game.

“To us, a big rival is West Ham, Palace back in the day and Tottenham. Charlton are more of an annoying little brother rather than a rival.”

Charlton set up a supporters’ director position in 1992 as fans were rewarded for their efforts in the Back to the Valley campaign. But the position was disbanded in 2008 and in recent years, the strong links between the fans and the higher echelons of the club have weakened.

There have been a number of protests directed against current owner Roland Duchatelet and numbers in the stands have dwindled.

We believe an elected fan on the board at Charlton could bring back those links.

Mr Simpson, who works full time as a salesman, said: “It will be hard at Charlton, there’s a lot of history there, especially with the current owners.

“It’s whether the board will take the position serious. You need guarantees that they will do that. They need to be putting someone on there for the right reasons. The board is not going to take someone on who is going to cause them big problems.

“They would need to get that in place and have an election. Create a criteria for who can stand. You don’t want people going into a boardroom, who has never been in one before.

“You want someone who can talk posh if they’re in the boardroom or talk proper geezer when they’re talking to the fan on the street. You have to be able to play different avenues.”

Mr Simpson does not sit on all the board meetings, but he has a call with Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh about three times a week.

He said: “I think when the fan on the board position came in, it was revolutionary in actually having a rough and tumble football fan sitting on the board, going to the meetings. I think Pete has done fantastic work for the club.

“He was behind bringing in Dockers Day. Which has gone forward and been great. But I think he would be the first to admit that 11 years is a touch too long in the position.

“When I took over, my aim was to improve communications with the fans, there seemed to be a disconnect that had set in.”

He thinks his best achievement so far has been lifting the travel restrictions on Millwall away games to Leeds. To get tickets for a game at Elland Road you would get a token from Millwall to go to a service station outside of Leeds, on the M1. They would then get a ticket and be channeled onto a bus and taken directly to the stadium.

Mr Simpson, who grew up in Bermondsey, said: “I put a lot of work into convincing the police to give us a second chance. There was trouble years ago. The police didn’t trust us.

“Our behaviour is good if you police us right.

“If the police tell me what their plans are then I can communicate to the fans. Then they won’t be frustrated and surprised when they step off the train and there is a sterile unit waiting for you.

“If you treat them right and with respect, they will give that back. They then lifted the ban this season. We had Leeds city centre to drink in and we could make our own way to the game.”

South London News