MATLOCK MERCURY: FANS BRING FIGHT TO THE DALES
Fans bring fight to the Dales
01 February 2006
FOOTBALL fans trying to evict their club chairman have launched a roadside smear campaign in the Dales village where he lives.
Keith Haslam, the chairman of Mansfield Town Football Club, is the target of protests from supporters who allege he's taken more than £1million out of the club and has yet to return the money or spend it on a proposed new training academy.
Last week a number of signs appeared in Mr Haslam's home village of Calver.
At least three placards were visible to drivers travelling through the village on the A623 towards Baslow last Friday morning.
One read: Think once! Think twice! Think Haslam out! and another described Mr Haslam as the Calver Highwayman.
A third declared Ban the bum – Haslam out!
Each of the signs featured a small picture of a clenched fist with the phrase 'Amber Fist' next to it – believed to be reference to the yellow shirts worn by Mansfield's players.
The signs had been removed by Friday lunchtime.
Chris Vasper, spokesman for TEAM Mansfield, a supporters' trust with shares in the club, said they were not responsible.
He said: "We have organised several protests at Mansfield Town matches, but we have always maintained that we will act within the law and we ask anyone who does want to demonstrate to do the same."
Mr Vasper said similar signs had been seen on a major Mansfield bypass in recent weeks, and fans have posted messages about the roadside protests on Internet forums.
Craig Kerry, spokesman for fans group the Stag Supporter's Association, said he was aware Mr Haslam had been targeted but that the SSA weren't responsible for the signs.
He said: "I have been told Mr Haslam lives in the area and these supporters have obviously found him.
"Whilst it isn't for us to condone their actions, neither is it for us to condone what Keith Haslam has done to our football club."
TEAM Mansfield is planning a public meeting and large-scale protest against the chairman before the team's home game against Macclesfield on Saturday. Mr Haslam (pictured right) declined to comment.
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