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Archived News from May 2004

14th May 2004 23:50

Evening Post, 14 May 2004

Mansfield chairman Keith Haslam believes a successful play-off campaign can give the club a big financial boost.

The Stags travel to Northampton on Sunday for their first game of a two-legged semi-final - and the club can already expect a six-figure windfall.

The total gate receipts and TV money from both Division Three semi-finals and the final are halved.

One half is divided between the four clubs in the play-offs, while the other half is split between the 20 clubs not involved.

But chairman Haslam points out that the financial prize for being in the end-of-season showdown is nothing compared to the rewards for getting into Division Two.

Should the Stags go up, they can look forward to big gates from a string of local derbies next season.

Haslam, who has been at the helm at Field Mill for 11 years, said: "Going up would give us the opportunity to play bigger sides and at bigger stadiums, but the number of derbies we would have if we got into Division Two would be very significant.

"We could be playing the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford, Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull and Chesterfield.

"That could push our average attendance up to about 7,000 because we would be looking at full houses for some eight home games.

"The play-off money would mean a bit, but not as much as the extra revenue we could get from the crowds.

"Overall, it means a lot to the football club. It would be a major thing for Mansfield Town."

Stags have bounced back well after being relegated last season, to finish fifth in Division Three.

After tasting life in the higher league for the first time in ten years, Haslam is keen to get back there.

But life on the bottom rung has been eased by gates rising by 6.5% this season and averaging 5,207.

The increase has been in line with the growth of the town itself over the last decade and Haslam wants to continue to harness that and increase the club's profile.

Of the league season just gone, he said: "We started off very well and expectations were high.

"We tailed off a little bit after Christmas but confidence is definitely high at the moment.

"At the end of last season we had a good squad of players and reaching the play-offs was really the minimum requirement when we started again.

"Our support is growing consistently and to keep that going, we want to be playing at a higher level.

"The club is growing, as is the town. We are making more of the corporate side and interest is growing in the Stags."

Many of the players who experienced life in Division Two with Stuart Watkiss and then Keith Curle stayed at Field Mill following the drop.

The chairman believes their chances of doing well have been significantly boosted by the fact he kept a tight financial rein and relegation did not provoke money problems.

"We were in the position where we were able to keep the squad together," he said.

"Many clubs find they have to let players go when they are relegated but we have been able to enhance ours.

"While others have been fighting against administration, we have been able to remain strong."

Haslam maintains the play-offs are something to look forward to and provide an opportunity for the team to demonstrate they are as good as anything Division Three has to offer.

"You go into the play-offs with a bit of trepidation," he added. "It is a time for players with character and strength.

"We have got experience and, in terms of ability, we are as good as anyone in the division. Hopefully, we will get three games to prove it."
Evening Post, 14 May 2004

Striker Eric Sabin has warned Mansfield they have still to feel the full force of the confident Cobblers.

Sabin scored a wonder-goal at Field Mill last weekend to help Town sneak the win needed to get them into the promotion play-offs.

And the Frenchman is convinced it will be Colin Calderwood's men who will be off to the Millennium Stadium on May 31.

"We beat Mansfield last weekend but we didn't play our best football against them," said Sabin. "We were solid and disciplined but we didn't show what we are really capable of.

"Next time, we will be much better."

Sabin misses Sunday's first leg through suspension, but the Frenchman, whose five goals for the Cobblers have all come on the road, is sure to be reinstated for the return to Field Mill.

"Because I miss the first leg it means I am going to be even fresher for the second," he said. "Maybe it is good news for the club anyway, because so far I have performed a bit better away from home than at Sixfields!"

The return game is an occasion the former Queen's Park Rangers and Swindon Town striker is really looking forward to.

Sabin was overwhelmed by the backing of the 2,600 travelling fans at Mansfield at the weekend, and he says he is desperate to reward them with a day out in Wales.

"It would be wonderful if we could win the second leg and get through, I would love that," he said. "I am dreaming of going to Cardiff with all of those people backing us. It is a really exciting time."

Sabin also scored doubles in the wins at Swansea and Hull as the Cobblers rose rapidly from mid-table to sixth place.


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