It’s not often that a senior Lib Dem is quoted in the Sports pages (Ming Campbell excepted). But today Tim Farron has been explaining his concern about the decision of Lewisham Council to compulsory purchase Millwall’s land.
Football clubs are a crucial part of British society and are at the heart of our communities. 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.
Since that was published Tim has written a longer comment piece.
The beautiful game is a huge part of all fans’ lives.
That is why, even though I am a Blackburn Rovers fan, I was saddened to read about the prospect of Millwall being forced to leave their home ground, the Den, as Lewisham council consider pursing a compulsory purchase order on land around the site. I love Ewood Park, and the idea of Rovers being pushed out against our will is heartbreaking. And I know that for Millwall’s fans the idea of being wrenched from the Den will be just as bad.
Because football isn’t just about sport. It is about community too – the people you go to matches with, the chip shop you grab a bite to eat in before the match and the pub you pop into for a quick pint afterwards. You don’t forget your first match: mine was Blackburn against Oxford United and despite it being a 1-1 draw, it is a match I’ll never forget. Because it matters – it is one of life’s great moments.
And football is also about the jobs in the community that the club creates, the character it brings to an area and the local initiatives it supports – like the Millwall community trust, which offers local people sports classes, educational workshops, disability sports classes and children’s soccer schools. If the club were to go, what would happen to that? What about the people employed by it? What about the businesses in the area that have, in Millwall’s case, grown up around a club that has been playing on that pitch for over 100 years?
You can read the rest of his article here.
* Mary Reid is the Monday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.