DOUBLE `RED CARD` FOR FOOTBALL CLUB
Double 'red card' for football club
Residents fear fire in disused stand...as health club boss 'waits five years for response'
MANSFIELD Town FC supremo Keith Haslam has dismissed claims — including from his own safety officer — that yobs are getting into Field Mill via the disused Bishop Street Stand and putting neighbouring homes at risk.
Residents on Bishop Street and Lord Street, which back up to the football ground, insist that they have seen youths entering the 'condemned' stand through a hole.
The allegations follow a report in last week's Chad which revealed the Stags escaped a possible blaze.
Two electric fires and an electric monitor had been left switched on in the old boardroom under the Bishop Street Stand — and were only discovered during a routine safety inspection by the county's Safety Advisory Group (SAG) before a pre-season match.
Now residents are demanding action is taken to step up security amid fears that the yobs could break in and start a fire.
Said Luke Thornton, whose lives directly next to the stand: "I think there is a hole into the ground. There are always gangs of youths about and I have seen them getting into the stand."
Neighbour Kevin Pattison backed his comments, telling Chad: "My home is three feet away from this potential tinder box and if it had caught fire, then my home, along with neighbours across the street, would have been damaged."
Last week Stags' safety officer John Sidney said: "No unauthorised personnel are allowed in. But we do get itinerants or whoever breaking in over there through the corrugated iron at the back."
However, this week Stags' chief executive Keith Haslam said: "There was a hole into the stand, but it was secured. No-one has ever got into the ground before and no-one is able to get in there now. I am aware there was a safety incident, but it was not a fire risk. A monitor overheated, but everything was disconected and contained."
Sue Storey, emergency planning officer for Nottinghamshire County Council and head of SAG told Chad: "A routine inspection takes place prior to every match and the friendly was the first one since last season. I cannot say how long the heaters had been on for, but no-one had been able to access the room for some time because it was locked.
"We are happy with how the club resolved safety issues highlighted at the inspection prior to the pre-season friendly.
"There have been other issues raised and the club is currently operating under a 70 per cent capacity restriction which was implemented by Nottinghamshire County Council on advice from the Safety Advisory Group.
"Overall safety responsibility rests with the club and they are currently (Tuesday) having meetings to discuss safety. If issues are solved and the group is satisfied, then the restrictions could go down to 90 per cent."
Meanwhile, other householders — as well as bosses at the nearby Oasis Health Club — say they are fed-up with fans who gather behind the fitness centre to watch games.
Health club manager Robert Douthwaite claims he is yet to receive a response from Stags bosses about the issue — despite repeated requests over a five-year period for action to be taken.
"The area supporters are occupying is actually owned by the football club, so it is their responsibility," he told Chad.
He says he has been forced to taken action by painting an area where the fans stand with 'anti-vandalism paint'.
- Officials, sponsors and the press were evacuated from the West Stand at the end of Saturday's clash with Lincoln over fears of a gas leak. Mr Haslam said: "There wasn't a gas scare, someone reported that they could smell gas and as a security measure the club acted on it."