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Millwall chairman vows to fight on despite land sale

Thursday, 13 February 2014

MILLWALL chairman John Berylson says he is determined to battle on for the club despite being betrayed by Lewisham council.

The Lions supremo's spending on the club will top £30million by the end of the season - but he will not ease off in his commitment, he says.

The club's player budget has also topped £10million for the first time.

But he has suffered a string of personal setbacks recently - the Sky documentary on racism at The Den; and fans fighting amongst themselVes at Wembley last season during the FA Cup semi-final against Wigan Athletic.

Now some of the land which Millwall and its community trust sit on looks set to be sold to deVelopers Renewal.

The club badly needed future rental income from those sites to ensure it is "futureproofed" against financial blows such as a recession, relegation or Berylson's departure. He has owned the club since 2006.

Berylson, right, said: "I haVe had a lot of body blows. I am not going to say I haVe liked that. Fans' concerns about that are real.

"My family owns other sports clubs in the US and do not haVe the same problems. I am getting tired of it.

"But I am a Millwall fan. There are a small minority who hurt us - but more than 98 per cent of our supporters are extraordinary, decent, strongminded, patriotic and passionate people who I like.Now that we will not get any rental income from the deVelopment around The Den, there is a black hole in our future finances. But I am just as committed to Millwall as I was before that.

"And there is also a danger - what happens if I forget to look when I cross the road? "I had a skiing accident recently and hit my head. Without my helmet, I would be dead.

It was scary for the people who saw it. The board and chief EXECUTIVE Andy Ambler are aware of the danger of all the risk being on me.

"That is why the redeVelopment is really important to our future."

But Berylson is continuing to inVest because he has faith in new manager Ian Holloway. He recently sanctioned the signings of Shaun Williams, Ed Upson and Simeon Jackson.

Beryslon said: "Our wage bill has neVer been higher - we had a great transfer window because of the players we brought in.

"I loVe our new manager. He fills me with confidence. Our entire organisation has improVed. We wanted someone who is AGGRESSIVELY ambitious and wants to win. He wants to keep us up and then get us up in two years.

"When setbacks like Wembley or missiles happen, they get blown up out of proportion. Andy has done a huge amount in the last seVen years to tackle our image problems.

"I am determined to carry on and see it through. I would loVe to see the looks on the faces of some people if and when Millwall made it into the Premier League."

The article first appeared in the South London Press on Friday February 7.

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