Many claim that Kenny Jackett/John Berylson is the best manager/chairman partnership we have ever seen at the club.
The American ‘got’ the fans, respected our heritage and us as fans, defended us where others would have rolled over and taken it (the case of the League Cup game vs. West Ham), and we appreciate this lack of meddling by a man from a world an ocean apart.
However, where his cultural impact could have been felt, John Berylson has seemingly failed to deliver. I am referring of course to the branding and merchandising of Millwall FC. We already have a history and fame both good and bad (biggest small club in the world) but the chairman is trying to rely on promotion alone in order to increase our gates and revenue streams. Surely this is not the American way?
Millwall need to take hold of our position of being the biggest club in south London, much in the same way our anorak neighbours did. We should be offering coaches to those fans who do not go regularly or at all in and around Kent. We should be offering tickets to every school academy scheme in and around our local boroughs of Southwark, Greenwich and Lewisham. Get ‘em early, that’s what I say. Particularly if it means we can fill up the bottom of the North stand every once in a while (something I’ll expand on in a later article) unless, of course they expect away fans to target kids for a beating.
Secondly; the merchandising in the club shop, the customer service and the quality of the kit on offer. Many fans would equate the quality of goods to that of a market stall, with not half as much of the customer service! This is something positive we can take from Berylson’s America. If you look at his favourite NFL team, the New England Patriots’ online shop they do everything from nice clothes, to tacky jerseys and even a toaster that burns the Patriots logo on to the toast!
At Millwall we have a host of associated phrases that we could put on shirts and t-shirts that tourists or one of our many European followers would probably love to take home with them. Our colours aren’t too offensive for quality looking clothing that wouldn’t go amiss on a golf course om a Sunday morning or a night out with the lads, but unfortunately it falls apart, shrinks in the wash or is of a very poor design.As for the staff, I believe it has been the same family running the shop for some time. This is all well and good when people feel like they are getting their money's worth, but this is business and it means being ruthless to get results. Whether this means giving the keys over to someone else or training the current staff again, something will have to give to make more of a success of it.
Lastly is, of course, the food at the ground. It is expensive and you wouldn’t wish some of it on Karren Brady the quality is that bad. How would people feel if we brought local businesses into the ground to cater the crowd? How much money would the club and the individual shop make if, for instance, Manzies were brought in at proper non-inflated prices (perhaps slightly to help the club make money). Even the local burger van would probably do a better job if he were stuck behind the counter with a bit of his kit than some of the crap we get served.
We have a fantastic structure at our club in terms of management. However, with the new financial rules coming into play soon and our average hardcore support being around 8-9000, I believe it's time Berylson and Andy Ambler sorted out Millwall’s commercial side using a pinch of the American dream.