London Mayor Khan wants Millwall to stay in Lewisham
Reuters

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has publicly expressed his support toward Millwall's desire to stay in London.

The League One side cautioned earlier in the week that the club could be forced to ditch its Lewisham digs for a move southeast to Kent should the land around The Den be sold to property developers.

On Tuesday night, the Lewisham council suspended a decision on the compulsory purchase order until February, with three New Bermondsey plots of land surrounding the club's 117-year home the targetted area in question. The borough council can either purchase the land itself or sell it to offshore developers, Renewal.

That purchase threatens Millwall's home and its surrounding properties, including a car park, cafe, Lions Centre leisure facility, and the club's Category 2 academy, which requires access to both indoor and outdoor training pitches. The construction of commercial and residential real estate on the three areas in question would threaten those facilities, prompting concerns from Millwall supporters that the club will move 50 miles away to Kent.

In steps Khan, who on Tuesday threw his support behind the interests of the club, with a spokesperson for the Mayor saying: "The Mayor wholeheartedly supports Millwall Football Club staying in Lewisham."

While Khan's backing will buoy the hopes of the Lions faithful, the Mayor does not have the authority to intercede on the Lewisham council's compulsory purchase order.

"The Mayor has no powers to intervene in this compulsory purchase order but is committed to building more new and genuinely affordable homes in the borough, through his New Bermondsey housing zone," Khan's spokesperson told the Evening Standard.

Even with Khan's support, Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh remains fearful of a potential move.

"What I was asked is would I rule out relocation in the event the CPO went through? And I cannot rule out such a move," Kavanagh conceded.

"I have to look at every single angle to make sure the commercial viability and long-term future of the club and its community trust is well served where we live," Kavanagh continued. "We have been in the borough since 1910 and we do not want to go anywhere. But if we are treated in such a manner that this goes through and we are not at the heart of the proposed development, then we have to consider what we do.

"We would look at all angles and consider where it is best for the club to live. Can I rule out that we would move? No I cannot."

Despite the concerns shared by Kavanagh and the club's supporters, the Labour-run Lewisham council released a statement Wednesday, with councillor Alan Hall admitting that the impact on both sides would be considered before February's decision.

"As the CPO call in review is further delayed Lewisham Council must seize the offer of talks with both hands for the sake of its reputation, its residents, and Millwall FC," Hall said.

Last year, Hall expressed his support for Millwall's plight, adding: "We need more transparency and assurance before investing taxpayers’ money and taking away other people's property."

Millwall will now wait until February to determine its future in London, a decision that is hampered by reported cuts of £85 million to the Lewisham council's budget.

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London Mayor Khan wants Millwall to stay in Lewisham
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