TEAM Mansfield delighted with Haslam apology
CHAD WEBSITE, 08 December 2005
Stags fans protest against the chairman's loans last Friday.
SUPPORTERS group TEAM Mansfield were delighted and surprised today after Stags chairman Keith Haslam apologised to supporters for taking huge personal loans from the club and hinted he may resign his post.
Mr Haslam's revelations, in which he also admitted what he had done was wrong and in breach of company law, came on the day that David Conn, Sports News Reporter of the Year, published a large article on Haslam's loans in The Guardian.
TEAM Mansfield had already launched a legal action against the chairman a week before, claiming his latest loans were in breach of their investment agreement.
Mr Haslam refused to comment at that time but, after taking advice following the Guardian article, he backed down and apologised saying he was 'embarrassed but not ashamed" and promised the money would all be paid back.
But he did dispute the figure of over £1m quoted in the article.
But the club's accounts show he has taken £585,142 in interest-free personal loans on top of his £66,444 salary while the club also paid a further £583,449 to Haslam's holding company, Stags Limited, to buy land for an academy not yet built.
He had already written off a £239,297 loan to himself in 2003.
The Guardian article suggested the loans breached section 330 of the Companies Act 1985 which prohibits a company from making a loan of more than £5,000 to any of its directors.
Chris Vasper of TEAM Mansfield said: "We were really delighted with David Conn's article. We have worked a long time with him.
"The next thing is to make sure Keith Haslam pays the loans back and we don't want it to be a paper exercise.
"David Conn has assured us this was the first of quite a few articles he will write about the financial dealings of Mansfield Town.
"We continue to ask for the support of Mansfield Town fans and we will continue with our legal action until a resolution is achieved.
"We would welcome any donations supporters want to make and our solicitors will keep moving this forward."
Haslam was unavailable for comment when Chad tried to speak to him. But he spoke to Radio Mansfield 103.2 about the Guardian article, saying: "It was a slanted article.
"It is not wrong on some of the loans. Some of the issues in there I think are completely wrong. On Keith Curle's comment about wages - how can I dispute that without telling you what players are on.
"Mansfield Town is part of a group of companies which is controlled by a controlling stockholders, which is Stags Limited.
"There is a loan outstanding which was reported to the AGM. We've not hidden at all that money is outstanding and it is being addressed.
"It has been well documented from what TEAM Mansfield have said since 2002.
"It is a breach, I'm not denying that it was wrong to do that but I was not in a position immediately to repay that.
"At the AGM I informed the shareholders I was looking to address the situation by the restructuring of the football club, which again has been publicised on the radio and in the local press.
"We are very close to being in a position to announce how we are dealing with this.
"If the lawyers and the accountants believe the structure is in place and it is accepted, then all the monies owed to Mansfield Town will be repaid. I'm not bargaining, the full amount of money will be repaid.
"I would very much hope in the near future the funds are in place. It is just details that just needs to be rubberstamped and the funds will come through."
He admitted that he regretted what he had done and that it was a breach of company law.
He also said his resignation may be part of the club's restructuring, but doesn't think his actions will get the club in any trouble with the Football League or the FA.
"It wasn't an issue I was really aware of,"" he added. "I have done wrong. The money will be repaid in full in the very near future. It is a shame that this story about Mansfield Town has come out in the national press when the procedure is being dealt with.
"If I can find a suitable chairman to take over from myself as part of the restructuring I am quite willing to stand down in favour of someone else.
"At this moment in time the club is not for sale. Nobody has come up with a price.
"I go round and round about these things. If there is someone out there wanting to buy the club all they have got to do is give me confirmation what their offer is with a bank guarantee those funds are available, but that has never been the case about anyone who wants to discuss Mansfield Town.
"I don't think Mansfield Town would have conducted itself in any different way if these funds had been in the club. That money belongs to the shareholders and will be repaid in full in the very short, near future.
"I would never deceive anybody. It is in public record. It is still wrong but I have never denied it and I have never hidden it away.
"It has always been there and it was my instigation of the restructuring which, while I can't reveal it at the moment, could shift a lot of the power away from the major shareholder."
Conn's article brought one new fact to light, stating that the Football Stadium Improvement Fund had suspended Stags from receiving any grants for three years after concerns over the validity of a grant application.
Haslam said; "The grant was an issue about a toilet block in the West Stand. It has never been disputed by the old Football Trust or the new body about monies paid to Mansfield Town.
"With the new stadium we've not made any application in the last couple of years for funds from that body.
"It is correct that a certain amount of money over a period over the last nine years has been taken out of the club. I am sorry for that. It is very unfortunate. I know it happens elsewhere but I'm not saying it is right, it is wrong to do.
"The club will be recompensed for the tax paid. If the right offer came around you never say never but, as I said, the club is not for sale.
"I'm embarrassed by this, I am not ashamed but I am embarrassed by it.
"I don't like this type of publicity. It doesn't do myself or the club any favours. This type of publicity I could do without and the football club could do without.
"All I can say is in time as part of restructuring there will be an offer that I will be looking or the club will look for maybe a chairman to take over from myself.
"That doesn't mean I am going to lose my shareholdings but might mean somebody else comes in to take over the helm.
"I am sorry to drag the football club and drag the supporters as well into that. I don't want to do that at all. I want the best for Mansfield Town supporters.
"I think that the report glibly spoke of me 'rebuilding a stadium.'
"I'm proud of the stadium and how we have developed the ground. Most clubs that come here are amazed with the stadium and I am proud of that side of it."