HASLAM THREAT TO SUE FANS
HASLAM THREAT TO SUE FANS FOR LIBEL
Evening Post, 18 August 2006
Stags boss Keith Haslam may sue a supporters trust for libel.
Team Mansfield - which bought a 3.3% stake in the club in 2002 - made comments about Mr Haslam in a statement when it decided not to put in a bid to buy the club at the end of last season.
Lawyers for Mr Haslam wrote claiming the trust had defamed him, and it issued a public apology.
Mr Haslam is currently on holiday. He will consider what to do next when he returns.
If he decides he is not satisfied with the apology, he could seek damages.
"I have been in discussions with Team Mansfield about retracting what they said. I asked for a retraction for the lies they printed," he said.
"My lawyers have spoken with their lawyers.
"I will discuss it further with them when I get back from holiday and see where we stand.
"There is not a great deal more I can say about it at the moment.
"As far as I am concerned, I don't recognise Team Mansfield as a body. We communicate with supporters through the Stags Supporters' Association."
Team Mansfield has campaigned against Mr Haslam for several years. They were particularly angered when the club paid him an interest-free loan of more than £500,000.
Mr Haslam said he paid back the personal loan when he offered Team Mansfield the chance to buy the club, although it has never been revealed how it was repaid.
In February Mr Haslam gave the trust 21 days to put together a bid for the club.
Team Mansfield took pledges from supporters and collected over £150,000.
They approached banks and investors for the rest of the cash, but then decided not to go ahead.
The trust claimed the value of the club was far less than Mr Haslam wanted to sell it for.
The trust then issued a lengthy statement explaining its position. But Mr Haslam was angered by some of the comments made about him.
The Evening Post did not run the statement in full, but it was run by another newspaper and radio station.
Team Mansfield issued an apology for the statement on August 2.
Legal action could force the trust to fold. They would face paying thousands of pounds of damages and legal fees if they lost a court case.
Mr Haslam could bring any action against Team Mansfield collectively as an organisation, or against its joint chairmen Colin Dobel and Jeff Barnes.
Mr Barnes resigned in April but was still in the post when the statement was issued.
A Team Mansfield spokesman said: "We have published an apology and hope it will bring this matter to a close because if it does go any further there's a real danger to the existence of Team Mansfield which would be a disaster for the shareholders, the club and its supporters.
"We remain determined to fight any proposed legal action.
"Mr Haslam has to recognise us as a body irrespective of any legal action.
"We remind Mr Haslam of the agreement signed in 2002 and we have a shareholding in the club to the amount of £33,000."