BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall’s current Fan on the Board has asked supporters if they would consider boycotting next month’s away game at Rotherham United after it was switched to a 12.30pm Sunday kick-off.
The Lions had taken the matter to a dispute, overseen by the EFL, which seemed to have found a compromise.
But South Yorkshire Police took the game to a full Safety Advisory Group meeting – who ruled the match would take place on August 26.
Millwall issued their own statement in which they described the decision as “entirely illogical”.
Micky Simpson, Fan on the Board at Millwall, used his Twitter account to gauge an away boycott of the fixture at the New York Stadium. Over 60 per cent said they would be in favour of not travelling.
“I don’t see why it has been moved,” he told the South London Press. “It is down to police advice but I have not seen any recent intelligence to suggest there is going to be possible disorder.
“I can understand if Rotherham are playing Thursday and wanted to change it from a Saturday to a Sunday. But to me it’s just South Yorkshire Police doing their finest.
“Because the game has moved to a Sunday it means fans can watch it on iFollow [who stream games on EFL websites] and the money all goes to Millwall, rather than buying tickets which gives Rotherham money. That is the benefit for this one.
“But Millwall don’t really do boycotts, it’s not what we traditionally do. Along with Millwall Supporters’ Club, I’m looking at every option available.
“MSC have put in a Freedom of Information request [to South Yorkshire Police], have written to the EFL and the South Yorkshire Police commissioner. So far we have not really got anywhere with it.
“The club have been fighting it, we have known about it for a little time. We were hoping common sense would prevail but unfortunately it doesn’t look like it is going to.
“These things should be decided on merit. In the last two seasons our fans have behaved impeccably away from home. There have been barely any arrests and disorder.
“All the police forces who have treated us with respect, which is all we want, have got good words to say about us.
“I overturned the Leeds travel ban last year and the police are more than happy with the way we conducted it that they will give us the same this season.
“It means we can go into Leeds city centre. We can drink wherever we want and make our own way to the ground.
“It is the border change from West to South Yorkshire where we are treated like the enemy again.”
The Rotherham kick-off will only give fans who travel by train a window of a touch over 30 minutes to get to the game on time.
Simpson said: “I can understand some kick-offs where there is a chance of disorder moving slightly earlier – but there is no evidence. The Met Police back us, the EFL are backing us but unfortunately you can’t do a lot when a police force are stuck in their ways and use every option available to them.
“Once they raise safety grounds then if it is not changed and things do go off then they’ll just point the finger at you.”
South Yorkshire Police say they spent £1.3million on policing at football games last season.
Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts told the Sheffield Star in June: “There needs to be a re-think about the funding of policing.
“If we did not need to spend this money policing football we would be able to employ an extra 27 officers to work on violence and knife crime, issues with gangs in Sheffield, the Rotherham child sexual exploitation team or neighbourhood teams in Barnsley and Doncaster, which would make a real significant difference.
“I am not attacking football. Clubs are paying what they are legally obliged to under the current regulations, but they are so unfairly weighted. It cost the Met £10 million to police matches last year and British Transport Police £5million. This is money used which could be used on our core functions,” said DCC Roberts.
“If we can’t find a better way of funding policing, clubs are going to have to do more to reduce the risk.
“This could be significantly more stewards, early morning games, no alcohol and no away supporters. We can’t afford to be using more and more police officers. “We can’t afford to subsidise clubs to the detriment of our local communities and that is what is happening.”
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