Sean Dyche was told the money saved in failing to sign Owusu will not be used
to offer him a new contract. His contract expired on June 30, but will be
paid until July 31 unless another club signs him.
said: "There is no prospect of a new deal here. But we have got a
good relationship with Dyche and even if he wants to talk to other dubs,
he knows he can come and train with us to keep in shape."
said the new television deal with BBC and Sky might make a difference to
how much money was available for players - but he could not tell until
further details emerged.
Bircham finally put pen to paper to sign for QPR. "When I was a kid,
I always dreamed of playing for QPR," he said "My family are all
Rangers fans. When I spoke to Rangers, they played on my heart-strings a
bit. I would not have spoken to any other Second Division club, because I
would not want to drop down normally"
upgraded their July 16 reserve pre-season friendly against Dulwich Hamlet,
at Champion Hill, to a first team friendly to replace the Tooting fixture.
Millwall failed to land their man, Brentford snapped up Millwall's Leon
Constantine, the 24-year-old striker who was given a free transfer by the
Lions, on trial.
Manager Wally Downes said: "Our chief scout John Griffin arranged for
Leon to come down to us for a few weeks. We'll take a look at him and then
see what happens."
wider football stories were also breaking.
the big two bookmakers in Britain, William Hill and Corals starting
accepting single bets on football matches after a voluntary 40 year ban.
The ban was introduced after a number of betting scandals in the sixties
that lead to several players being banned for life.
FA were against the move as they had seen match result tampering efforts
in 1997/98 from a Malaysian betting syndicates who interfered with
floodlights causing the West Ham v Palace and Wimbledon v Arsenal games to
abandoned. Suspicion was aroused when the second of these failures happen
at Upton Park just seconds after a goal had been scored. In the far east,
illegal bookies paid out the games as long as at least 45 minutes had been
played. The syndicate had been broken when Charlton security guard Roger
Firth admitted taking £20,000 to give the syndicate access to Charlton's
floodlights to rig up a remote control device.
second story was The Football League's four year TV deal with Sky. Sky
were to pay just £23.75 Million per year which was substantially
less than the £95 Million a year deal with ITV Digital.
Football League Chairman
Keith Harris said: "This is great news and removes a major
uncertainty that threatened many of our clubs. They are now able to budget
for the future with some certainty. In Sky we have a partner that we can
The new deal now means
that Sky will televise 60 Nationwide matches across all divisions,
including 50 from Division One. The deal also gives it the end of season
play-offs and the contract for the Worthington Cup.
The deal was struck
three weeks before the League is due to start its High Court action
against ITV Digital's former owners Carlton and Granada. The League claim
the companies must honour the parent company guarantee and pay up the
outstanding £178.5m owed for the remaining two years of the contract. As
a result of this deal, the League will now be trying to reclaim the
difference of £133.5m.
League chief executive
David Burns said "When someone has broken their contract with you,
there is no alternative but to go to court."
The deal however aroused
anger from several First Division chairman as it terms were not referred
back to them for approval of the amount to distribution between the
divisions and length of the deal before the Football League chairman and
chief executive signed the deal.
said: "Granada and Carlton tried to destroy football in this country.
It is great to have Sky back because they know what they are doing. If
we'd had Sky in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess. We had to
let three players go purely as a result of the collapse of ITV Digital.
The deal has consigned us to a very low figure for four years. We would
have been better with no deal and trying to get more money later on. Some
clubs will lose up to £10 million because of the way this was negotiated."
While Millwall were
feeling the strain, Bradford axed 19 players after going into
administration with massive debts and Watford sacked boss Gianluca Vialli
and his backroom staff and asked players to take pay cuts.
The Sky deal to screen
Division One games will bring in another £600,000 for Millwall, but that
is more than £2million short of the amount the ITV Digital deal would
McGhee said "The
new deal is a bit of a disaster because it is so long. Players' agents -
and the fans - will have to realise that even on the strength of last
season's performance, there is no magic pot of money we can give them. I
am in exactly the same position."
"I had an
understanding with the chairman that as things improved, I could expect to
sign a new contract this summer. But I will not even speak to him about it
because it would be ludicrous to insist on that now, when the club has
lost a third of its revenue because of the ITV Digital collapse."
Despite speculation over
the future of midfielder Tim Cahill, McGhee said Paphitis had promised
only the manager would make decisions about selling players.
"We have had
inquiries from third parties about Tim's availability,"
said McGhee. "But there has been no direct offer or approach. The
chairman promised me I would not have to sell players if we were prudent
with our cash. So we would only do it if it could benefit this club. But
the decisive factor is always the player. Realistically, these days, if
they want to go you cannot stop them."
"The best way to
stop that is to convince them of our ambitions - we want to be in the
Premiership and I believe we can improve on last year."
Pahitis added "New
contracts for Sean Dyche, Marc Bircham and Christophe Kinet would have
cost the club up to £500,000. Dyche had an offer from Bradford and turned
down our deal last season. As much as I love him, he took a decision and
it has not worked out. We all take those risks in life. But we will see
the season through without flogging anyone. If we sell, it will only be
when Mark McGhee believes it is the right thing for the club. And he feels
with the youngsters coming through, we have enough cover. Those young
players must get their turn at some stage."
The spate between
Paphitis, Jordan and Scally (nicknamed the South London Mafia) and the
Football League became more
heated with Harris hitting back at his critics.
Harris dismissed those
criticisms saying the four-year contract is the best deal he could have
done. He said: "Theo is not happy but the reason the term is four
years is a reflection of the fact that economic and advertising cycles are
likely to take longer than two years to recover. In a depressed market the
downturn tends to be rather quick, but the tendency is for the upclimb to
be a lot longer.
"The deal was fully
discussed with the Football League's commercial committee and the Football
League board. It was their opinion, as was mine, that this was the only
deal of any value on the table."
Paphitis had said:
"Why have we signed a four-year deal in a depressed market? When
things are bad you go short, not long. This deal has committed football
clubs to four years of losses."
The press were carrying
reports that Carlton and Granada had made a £60m out of court
settlement offer, but the Football League said there was no such offer on
Further bad news on the
financial front came when The Football League's
media partner, ntl, with whom they run a joint internet venture Premium
TV said it
couldn't afford the
next £5m installment of their £65m contract. Instead the hard up Cable
TV giant ntl wanted to Football League to waive the outstanding £35m and
introduce a profit sharing agreement. The trouble was that the there were no
profits at this stage, just massive losses.
spokesman claimed they had warned Football League Chief Executive David
Burns a month ago but he had failed to do anything about it. He
said: "If they had dealt with this quickly then the issue of Friday's
£5m payment would not be an issue now."
In the wake of all this
bad financial news speculation grew that Aston Villa were
about to make a £3.5 m bid for Tim Cahill. McGhee admitted that there had
been approaches, but "we have had no offer of any description
said: "The gaffer has made a statement and I do not want to talk any
more about it. It is not down to me."
midst of all this financial bad news the pre-season friendlies started
coming thick and fast. A Friday night game at Barry Town saw a young Lions
team win 2-0 thanks to goals by Charley Hearn and Stuart Booth.
addition to Hearn and Booth, Cherno Samba, Peter Sweeney, Mark Phillips and
Alan Dunne all played.
said: "Cherno is nowhere near ready - but he never will be unless we
start to bring him in soon. He needs to be involved in the big games in
pre-season to give him the chance to work at a higher level. The young
players need to be pushed harder than they would in the youth team, so
they will come along quicker - but Cherno is not someone I see as making a
big plus from the game was Joe Dolan's first game in a Millwall shirt for
18 months after he broke his leg. McGhee said: "Joe getting on the
field was probably the important thing as much as anything else. And to
see Neil Harris playing, too. The rest of the appearances were just giving
people the chance to kick off their season."
possible move for Tim Cahill McGhee said. "There has still been no
official offer. But the only way he would go is if he insists on doing so
- and if the right bid comes in. I do not want ham to go anywhere and I
would not choose to sell him. But sometimes these days, with agents and
the other factors in the game, that can become impossible."
on the news that Sean Dyche had signed for Watford, McGhee said. "All
three Dyche, Bircham and Kinet who have left did well for us. They all
wanted to stay. But we had to make cuts, which is all the more reason why
the youngsters need to come through."
said: "I wasn't in too bad a situation because I had one or two
offers on the table, but I just decided to hang on a bit because I wanted
the right club at the right time. Fortunately it happened perfectly for me
with Watford coming in, because I wanted to join them. It worked out well
for me personally last season and also for the club as a whole. I've got
to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Millwall, but everything has
to come to an end. This is a new beginning for me and I've got to
concentrate on working hard and doing a job for Watford."
Sean Dyche put the
record straight on his contract talks with the club in an interview with
the South London Press.
"I was offered a
contract on December 28. It was not an official club offer - there was
nothing in writing stating what the terms would be - it was just a chat
with Mark McGhee in his office, jotting down figures."
"It was a 15 per
cent pay increase, plus more with appearances, yet we had been promoted to
a higher division. I did not think that was good enough. I was not asking
for ridiculous money. I thought it was the going rate. I was not offered
what I thought I was worth. I would have been willing to sign a deal if I
had. I did not think at the time that I was taking a risk with my career
at Millwall because I genuinely thought we were going to do a deal and I
"Right up to us
being knocked out of the play-offs, I still thought I would be a Millwall
player the next season. I was still hoping something would be done. But by
the time it came close to coming back, I had to look at my options. I was
very lucky there were other clubs that wanted me."
"I hope the fans
saw me as someone they wanted to be out on the field. Many of them said I
fitted their picture of what a Millwall player should be like. It was a
wrench to leave because I had two wonderful years. But unfortunately,
football moves on. Everyone has their own financial issues and I have to
build for my future.
"Then it was made
quite clear to me the finances would not allow me to get another deal. So
there was no big decision. I wanted to play football."
"In all my time
there, I had only one disappointment - that was the chairman implying that
I was using an offer from another club to try and get more out of
Millwall. That was simply not true. I am not having a dig at anyone. I
have nothing but good things to say about Millwall. I thoroughly enjoyed
my time at The Den. I just want people to know the facts."
Kinet expressed dismay over the way Millwall had handled the renewal of
up until I went on holiday I thought I would be back here next season. I
found out on holiday I would not. I still don't know why. Maybe it is the
television money. It has left me little time to find a new club, which
upset me a bit."
"And when I got
back here to England, I found letters piled up on my doorstep asking me to
discuss new terms. It's too bad. Millwall don't want me. I do not know
why, exactly, but there is nothing I can do."
"I would prefer to
stay in England in the First Division but it will not be easy and I hope I
could get a club in Belgium if not. I have been training with my old club
there since I found out I would not be back at Millwall.
"I will never
forget the fans singing my name. They realised I never cheated the club. I
gave 100 per cent. I don't care about reputations they have been perfect
removal will see
Joe sidelined for a further three months.
Mark McGhee said:
"Joe has got to have an operation to remove the plate from his leg.
We always felt it was going to happen. There
was a chance he would not have to have it removed but now it has become a
probability, there was no point in risking him. He is quite relaxed about
it because it is all part of the process of healing he needs to go
did not miss a game last season so I am not too concerned about Dolan
being out that long. If one of our centre-backs is injured while Joe is
out, I will tackle the problem when it arises."
The first of the
Pre-season friendlies at the Den was against Steaua Bucharest who were
being hyped up as top European opposition as they had previously won the
European Cup, beating Terry Venables' Barcelona in a penalty shoot out. It
was rumoured that a substantial fee was being paid to the opposition for
the game. However the game failed to captured Millwall fans imagination,
with only 2,855 turning up on a baking hot July Saturday. Worse still, the
standard of opposition was found wanting as Steaua showed all the
defensive skills of a pub team, with a woeful offside trap.
Neil Harris cashed in
with an hatrick within half an hour, which showed clinical finishing
inspite of the poor defending. With three minutes gone, Harris dispossessed
Mirel Radoi, ran on into the area and was on hand to tap home the rebound
of this own shot after it hit the post. Harris was put clean through
by Ifill and he rounded the keeper to slot home on 19 minutes and then
when clean through again he lobbed the keeper to complete his hatrick.
Ifill completed the scoring in the 40th minute to give the Lions a 4-1
half time lead.
In the final minute,
Steven Reid was red carded for an elbowing offence. However Referee Steve
Tomlin, mindful of the playacting through out by the Steaua players,
viewed the video straight after the match and agreed to rescind the card
as it was plainly a collision that led to play acting.
Ben May again featured
in place of the still missing Richard Sadlier. McGhee
was crowing about
how Ben has come on in "leaps and bounds".
Ben was keeping his feet
firmly on the ground "I don't know how it's come right now, I'm tired
but just happy to be playing. I only played my first game five games ago,
but I'm just happy to play every one."
Last season, Gravesend
born Ben scored five times for the reserves, including a hat-trick against
his local side Gillingham, and was top scorer with eleven for the Under
"There was no hint
last year I would be in. I didn't think I would be playing four or five
games in a row, and to play whole games as well is great."
"I haven't got a
clue how I'm going to figure this season. I've just got to work at it and
hopefully be involved. They [the front-line] did it last season but if
they get any injuries I would jump at the chance to try and prove myself.
It felt really good to get in. Hopefully I will be here to stay."
Nethercott certainly believes there is a chance that Ben could figure this
season. He said: "The boy's been a different class. You can see signs
of Sads in him. He's got good technical ability and is a handful for
defences. We might have a gem on our hands."
Ben believes the youth
team could realise their potential. "Everyone's got a chance to get
in the team. It's definitely a good crop of youth players. Every day I'm
learning, and every day the gaffer is teaching me new things, so all I can
do is learn and hopefully get better."
Stuart Nethercott was in
upbeat mood writing his Captains Corner Column in the Southwark News.
"Everyone's got to improve another ten or twenty per cent if we want
to do well this season. We've seen the improvement already. We've seen
more confidence from the likes of Timmy, Reidy and Ifill. If these
big-time players can improve even more then the signs are good."
But just as optimism was
spreading to the fans, the dark shadow of vultures come to pick Millwall's
squad apart was seen on the horizon.
Throughout the close
season, there have been rumours linking Tim Cahill with a move to Villa
Park. These rumours gained strength when Villa's sold George Boateng to
Middlesbrough for £5 million. Steven Reid was also been linked with other
But Mark McGhee denied
that either player will leave the Den. "I think everyone has just put
two and two together. There are lots of teams interested in Tim Cahill but
we want to keep hold of him. Villa have expressed an interest, but not
recently." The uncertainty surrounding the futures of two of
Millwall's top young players will be a cause of anxiety to Lions fans, who
have already seen Marc Bircham, Sean Dyche and Christophe Kinet leave the
Den this summer, as the club tries to improve its financial position.
However McGhee was to
admit later in the season that there was a lot more than people putting
two and two together in these rumours. Indeed McGhee whole strategy for
the coming season was based around selling Cahill to raise the cash to
replace him and the released players.