STAGS TRUST HAS `MONEY IN BANK`
STAGS TRUST HAS 'MONEY IN BANK'
Evening Post, 21 September 2006
GUY WALKER AND JAMES SMITH
A Director of Mansfield Town Football Club's community charity insists he is happy with its accounts - despite having written to other members of the board suggesting it was insolvent.
Coun Chris Winterton, a director of the Stags Community Trust, wrote to fellow directors, Mansfield Town owner Keith Haslam and Alan Meale MP, on May 31.
In the letter, seen by the Evening Post, he recommended "that the trust cease to trade with immediate effect" as the "only cause of action that will ensure no further debts are incurred by the trust".
He asked for an emergency board meeting and suggested bringing in an independent insolvency advisor.
He was raising the concerns because he did not feel the club was able to pay Bernard Wale, a consultant brought in to work for the trust.
But now he has told the Post those concerns have been allayed.
His comments come a day after the Post reported how Mr Meale denied fresh allegations in the national press about financial irregularities.
Coun Winterton said: "The letter has been acted upon. We have had the accounts audited and have enough money to be solvent.
"We had to make sure we were not paying out money we didn't have.
"We had a meeting and have now disengaged ourselves from our contractual obligations with Bernard."
Mr Meale, the trust's chairman, said: "Chris was worried because we had three bids to charitable foundations which can take ages to come back.
"He thought we would have a scenario where we wouldn't be able pay Bernard.
"But we have money in the bank which is more than sufficient to pay Bernard and our other debts are tiny."
The trust was launched in May 2003. The West Stand at Field Mill was developed with the building of a computer suite, classrooms, kitchens and toilets.
Using the Field Mill ground as its base, the trust's job is to hold events for schools and community groups offering activities such as 'meet the players' sessions, tours of the ground and various projects to do with computers and health, using football as the theme.
The trust received more than £500,000 in grants between its launch and June 2004, mostly from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.
The most recent set of accounts for the charity, dated June 2004, show nearly £400,000 of the money has not been spent.
Because the current accounts have yet to be filed, it is not known how much more of the £500,000 has now been spent.
Last year's accounts for both Mansfield Town and the Stags Community Trust are nearly five months late.
Mr Meale said he expected the accounts to be filed in the next fortnight.
Coun Winterton's comments follow yesterday's allegations in a national newspaper, accusing the trust of paying the football club's coaching staff partly with Trust money.
The allegation centres on a document which it is claimed shows Mr Haslam instructed payment for two club coaches - Kevin Philliskirk and Paul Holland - to be split between the club and the trust.
But yesterday Mr Meale said the payments did not occur and the document, written by chartered accountant Colin Hogg, was just "half a piece of paper with scribbles on it".
Meanwhile in a separate development, Sport England has confirmed it carried out an audit and found the football club had used money from a youth development grant on "non-eligible" expenditure.
The fund is £10m a year from the Premier League, FA and Sport England lottery money, with £138,000 grants going to each participating club.
The audit was carried out this summer into £30,000 of payments made in 2004/2005.
They including £3,500 drawn from the fund twice to pay a bus company, £4,000 for accommodation for three YTS youth players, which is not allowed, and £20,000 paid to Mr Holland for coaching.
Sport England has now ceased funding the programme, but the money was deducted from the club eligible grant for 2005/2006.
Mr Haslam said he is preparing a statement which will address the allegations made in the article.
In its first year, the Stags' Trust helped more than 4,000 children.
It even got the backing of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who called in to see the new facilities and hand over a cheque for £49,500 from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.
Children aged from five to 16 have taken part in both academic studies and football coaching during their visits.
The Trust has also organised events such as family learning weekends.
At the first event in 2003, 200 youngsters and 60 adults turned up to meet players Bobby Hassell and Adam Eaton, while getting computer advice from companies and literacy help from Mansfield Library.
Another project saw Stags players encouraging children to read books in a BBC Big Read event.
Pupils from Dalestorth Primary School, Sutton-in-Ashfield, were inspired to write reviews of books they enjoyed before doing other work about books.
Along with the club, the Trust also set up a new annual competition, the Mansfield Town Schools Community Cup, for years three and four pupils.
The Trust aims to promote lifelong learning, healthy lifestyles, education, social and economic regeneration and sports and football development.
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