Danny Ruler looks at the Millwall chairman
Distinguishing Features A balding Greek Cypriot with a cheeky smile. Has a cockney accent with Greek twang that his detractors always claim is faked to try to make him “one of the fans”.
Habitat Most likely to be found scouring the financial newspapers for a company that is going under so he can dive in at the last moment, buy it cheap and turn it around. His record is good, saving Ryman stationers and Contessa underwear from certain death before coming in to Millwall as a latter day St Jude. Grew up in south London but did not have any contact with Millwall until the business opportunity came his way. Now claims to love the club and even when he steps down will become a season ticket holder.
What use is he? Without doubt he saved the club from certain extinction just over four years ago. He inherited the financial chaos left by previous chairmen Peter Mead and Reg Burr, both of whom are still on the board, and set about cutting our outrageous costs. Out went the hapless Jimmy Nicholl, most of the expensive flops he brought with him from Scotland, the caterers and all those nice sachets of sugar with the club badge on – no cost was too small to cut. He followed this by having some rights issues, devaluing the shares even further in the process (they now trade a fraction above 1p, slightly less than the original 20p flotation) and was persuaded to plough money into an academy that is now producing some of the best schoolboy English talent seen in years. He is a defender of the fans when genuinely wronged (away at Man City and Wigan) and honest enough to realise that we still have a problem (Cardiff at home).
Who remembers his birthday? The majority of fans who are grateful that he stepped in to save the club and seems to be putting us on a financially sound footing. Those that certainly won’t make the visit to Clinton Cards include the managers he has dumped: Jimmy Nicholl, Billy Bonds, and the legendary Keith “Rhino” Stevens and Alan McLeary. Plus the fans who are suspicious of him and his motives. But that is only a minority.
Quote Unquote After the rights issue that banked £1.6million he said: “The money raised puts us in a stronger financial position, but it does not mean we will be rushing out to spend it all on players.” He seems to have a lot in common with Gordon Brown.
Other offences to be taken into consideration He changed the home kit to white, stating incorrectly that it was the traditional Millwall kit. Blue and white have always been our colours. He has also replaced the club badge from the aggressive “roaring lion” to two lions playing pat-a-cake with each other. He is rumoured to be a bit too close to team selection and he currently has a film crew following him for a BBC2 programme. Not one to miss a TV opportunity. On the plus side he has listened to fans and changed the name of the home end from the South Stand to the Cold Blow Lane End. He has done his best to improve our image and is one of the very few chairmen who pay more than lip service to campaigns on racism.
From WSC 167 January 2001. What was happening this month