Fan on the Board
Over the course of the last decade football clubs have realised that the supporters have an important and positive role to play in supporting the boardroom in the running of the clubs. A good way of achieving this is to have a supporter’s representative on the board of directors.
In 2003, a group of Millwall fans founded the Lions Trust, a Supporters' Trust at Millwall, and one of the objectives was to pull together the shares of the many Millwall supporter shareholders, to give the fans a bigger and better say in how our club is run. The ultimate objective was to have a Fan on the Board. Subsequently this was achieved through the MSC, and the Lions Trust shareholding has grown so it is a small but significant shareholder of Millwall PLC.
With the arrival of Peter de Savaray as club chairman in November 2005, came one of his earliest decisions to try and turn around many years of deteriorating fan relations at Millwall FC by including a 'fan on the board' here too.
This was very much a new direction for the club and as such the MSC were charged with drawing up an outline of the duties involved, sifting through applicants and then, in March 2006, organising an election for the first Millwall Fan on The Board. In total, the first election saw five supporters standing for election, with Peter Garston being announced as the successful candidate, on April 4th 2006. The club have been as good as their word and have given Peter full Director's privileges - including access to information and voting rights. Pete served for an initial two year term and has since continued in this role having been re-elected for a fourth term in March 2014.
Since taking on the role Peter has helped develop the 'Let 'Em All Come Back' Society - trying to encourage season ticket renewals - and has worked closely with the MSC especially in regard to developing good relations with the police and club security team, liaising with fans regarding banning orders and disciplinary matters and also providing a vital voice to the board of directors on the feelings on the supporters on the terraces week in week out. Many fans have also commented on the vast improvement in communications since the Fan Director role has come into being.
Peter has also been pivotal in the development of the Annual Dockers Day Celebrations working in close liaison with Chris Bethall so that each day is related back to significant events in the history of our club. Peter can always be contacted by email.
Peter Garston - Our Fan on the Board
Peter writes: "I am 54 and have two sons Harry, after Harry Cripps and Alfie, after Alfie Woods, my wife wouldn't allow Gordon after Gordon Hill! I live in Bickley, Bromley.
I work for a major telecommunications company and I have total responsibility for the account management of customers to a value of £9.2m.
My first Millwall experience, a home game, was in 1970 and away 1972. Since then I have attended an average of approximately 90% of home games and 70% of away games. I have never lost the passion to go, Millwall for me is not only about the football (luckily!).
I have been your Fan on The Board since the position was formed in 2006 and have built up strong relationships with the other members of the board and our Chairman continuing to be the link in the chain between the board room and the stands.
There is a great need to continue marketing Millwall to youngsters, they are the clubs future, we need also to keep ticket prices for youngsters and families to a minimum where possible and fill any empty seats with people who are potential fans.
I feel there is a strong need to put more focus on the Junior Lions, they will grow up and bring their children eventually, we need to give them better facilities, maintain and develop the Family Enclosure continuing to provide them with their own area on match days, to make this feel like a family club, we need to listen to and act on their needs. Whilst last year we achieved a Football League Family Club Award we still need to build and develop on this.
We also need to take the club to the local area, build up strongholds in the other areas where Millwall fans have moved out to, for example Welling/Sidcup/Dartford, we need to look at the club assisting with communal travel, also look at the car sharing options to get more fans in.
I arrange meetings with the chief police/stewards to find out how we can improve their relationship with the fans and like to see any issues fans may have with the police/stewards discussed and resolved. I continue to assist fans who are the subject of 'Banning Orders' arranging meetings with Andy Ambler so they can put their side of the story across and the order assessed more fairly and based on both sides.
My experience of following Millwall home and away for the last 45 years, understanding of Millwall culture, my business knowledge, my ability to put into laymen's terms any relevant boardroom information, along with desire to want the best for Millwall FC are the right qualities needed to be the fans representative on the board."
8 September 2016 - Defend Our Den
As mid-week fixtures go, heading to Lewisham Council to stop the CPOs at a Mayor and Cabinet meeting was never going to be easy.
In spite of 25,000 signing our Defend Our Den petition, having the support of our local MPs Vicky Foxcroft and Neil Coyle and the Lewisham Labour Group of councillors, the Cabinet decided to go against us.
After a debate lasting well over two hours, the Lewisham Cabinet voted in favour of giving the Council CPO powers.
Six voted for, one voted against and one abstained. The Cabinet member who backed us was New Cross Councillor Joe Dromey. He said there was no public interest in granting the CPO power, Renewal should have done more to reach an agreement with us and the amount of affordable housing they offered – 12%, of which only a quarter was capped at 60% of market rate – was far too low.
We also appreciated Councillor Brenda Dacres, also representing New Cross, who spoke out against the CPOs at the meeting along with resident Willow Winston.
So what happens next? Well, it's not over yet.
The Council will now spend the next few weeks assembling the relevant papers and drafting their CPO. It will then notify Millwall, the Millwall Community Trust and the 20 other businesses and residents effected that the process has begun.
Lewisham Council will then submit this draft CPO to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It's likely, because it's a contentious issue, that the minister will then appoint an inspector to head a public inquiry.
This inquiry will then allow Millwall and the others affected by the CPO to give evidence in public, along with the council and Renewal.
The inspector would then write a report and submit it to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. That minister will then make the final decision.
This whole process could last at nine months before that report is submitted.
So it’s all to play for. In the meantime, nothing changes. The land The Den stands on is not affected and the Millwall Community Trust will continue to serve our community.
But as JB has said, we will fight on for the club, the MCT, the local businesses, the residents and the fans. The chairman is going nowhere and neither will we.
And we the fans, and that includes the staff, management and players, are going to play a huge part in the next stage of the campaign. Just look at how successful the Save Lewisham A & E campaign was when everyone from the club and local community worked together.
So we're one nil down from the away leg.
But it's all to play for in the next game.
Peter Garston, Fan on the Board
c/o The Den, Zampa Road, SE16 3LN
phone - 07895 022 325
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