CHAD: HASLAM IN GRANTS ROW, BLAMES GREY AREAS
Stags' boss in grants row
CHAD, 27 September 2006
UNDER-FIRE Man-sfield Town Football Club is again under the national spotlight amid fresh allegations of financial irregularities and misuse of funds.
Stags' chiefs have spent the last week trying to head-off the continuing controversy which centres on accusations that they paid staff wages with money set aside for the club's youth charity — the Stags Community Trust.
The latest finger-pointing row has been sparked by a report in national newspaper The Guardian which raised questions over the football club's finances.
Adding to the controversy is an audit carried out by funding body Sport England which discovered that Mansfield Town misused almost £30,000 of its youth development fund money on 'non eligible' costs.
Yesterday defiant Stags' boss Keith Haslam, who owns the club, again came out fighting and insisted that the club had never dipped into the Community Trust's funds to pay its bills.
And in angry response, he blamed supporters group TEAM Mansfield for the latest accusations — saying the fans were trying to drive him out of the Field Mill hotseat.
"A small group of so called Mansfield Town supporters don't want me at the club," he told Chad. "But this doesn't just hurt me, it hurts the supporters, the team and the club in general.
"The Trust has never, does not and will never pay Mansfield Town Football Club's bills — but it will, with the help of the club, continue its community work for the benefit of the people of the area."
And he dismissed critics who point to the Sport England audit, claiming the problem of the 'non eligible' funding charges had been caused by 'grey areas' in the funding guidelines and the issue had been settled with the Football League months ago.
This latest furore is not the first financial scandal to hit Stags in recent years –– last year another Guardian report revealed that Mr Haslam had personally borrowed £585,142 from the club, which was in breach of the Companies Act.
Mr Haslam this week insisted that all the money had now been paid back and he no longer had any personal debts to Mansfield Town Football Club.
Meanwhile, TEAM Mansfield has hit back at the Stags' supremo and has urged him to work along with Mansfield MP Alan Meale — who is chairman of the Community Trust — to ensure no more shadows are cast over the club's practices.
Said a TEAM Mansfield spokesman: "We are disappointed that yet again the club is in the newspapers for the wrong reasons and we hope that Mr Haslam and Mr Meale work with transparency to ensure that the full details of the working of the Trust are made public.
"This is not about driving Mr Haslam away from the club, it's about good governance and good practice at the club and at the Trust."
MP promises probe into claims
CHAD, 27 September 2006
MANSFIELD Town chief executive Keith Haslam has dismissed allegations that two club coaches were paid using money from the Stags' Community Trust.
In an article published last Wednesday, the Guardian refers to a document made by former Stags and Community Trust accountant Colin Hogg in October 2004.
It is understood to contain handwritten notes saying that Mr Haslam instructed Mr Hogg to pay half the wages of coaches Kevin Philliskirk and Paul Holland by using trust funds.
This would be an improper use of charity money, as neither of the coaches are thought to have done any work for Community Trust for that season.
But a defiant Mr Haslam, who is also a director of the trust, says the notes are not formal accounting papers and insists both coaches were only ever paid by Mansfield Town Football Club.
"The trust has never, does not and will never pay Mansfield Town Football Club's bills," he said.
His comments were backed by trust chairman Alan Meale, who also dismissed the credibility of the document.
"These were some scribbles on a half a piece of A4 paper –– and that's all," he told Chad.
"There will be a full investigation into this, but as far as we know these people were never paid from the trust."
Club blames 'grey areas' for wrong use of funding
CHAD, 27 September 2006
STAGS misused around £30,000 of youth development funding, according to a Sport England audit in May.
The funding body highlighted three separate categories of 'non eligible' payments made with the £138,000 handout –– although Mansfield chief executive Keith Haslam says the dispute has now been settled with the Football League.
He blames the situation on a number of 'grey areas' in Sport England funding guidelines and says the money is being repaid, but says he is still not convinced the club was entirely in the wrong
"Certain mistakes were made during 2004/05 which were put right during the course of meetings with the Football League," he said.
"Both parties are now clear about what constitute non-eligible and eligible payments, and my staff are now fully aware of what can and can't be paid for from these grants."
This funding money was paid directly to the club and is unrelated to the Stags Community Trust.
Of the disputed payments, £20,000 of the youth funding was used to pay the wage of coach Paul Holland.
Mr Haslam admits that this was a mistake and says Mr Holland should only have been paid a proportion of the wage using youth funding –– as he only spent part of the year working with the youth team –– but funding bosses have said none of it should have been used for the salary.
There was also a case of 'double invoicing' where local bus firm Redferns were seemingly paid £3,500 twice from grant money on the same set of invoices, although Mr Haslam says this is being looked into.
Auditors also raised concerns about £4,000 used to pay accommodation costs to first team player Adam Eaton, who was putting up three YTS students during their training.
'We haven't run out of money . . .'
CHAD, 27 September 2006
OFFICIALS have moved quickly to quash widespread rumours that the Stags' Com-munity Trust has run out money.
Fears over the future of the education-based project first emerged back in May when leading Nottinghamshire county councillor Chris Winterton sent a letter to Trust chiefs saying he was worried the charity had become insolvent.
He told directors — Mansfield MP Alan Meale and Stags' chief executive Keith Haslam — that there was no longer enough money left to pay the Trust's development manager Bernard Wale and recommended that the charity should cease trading immediately.
But Coun Winterton has since acknowledged that the charity is not in financial trouble — and this week Mr Meale also said that there are no cash problems and the Trust had been simply waiting for a new batch of grants to come through.
And he insisted that although Mr Wale was currently owed around £10,000 in fees for managing the Trust, this debt would be settled once the grants were paid into the bank.
"We've got more than enough money in the Trust to settle any debts," he said.
"Coun Winterton was quite rightly concerned that we couldn't go on trading until the new grants came in, because you can't trade without money in the bank.
"We had a meeting and explained that there was enough money there and there wasn't a problem.
"We asked Bernard to see the bids through and as soon as they are through he will be paid –– and Bernard's very happy about the situation."
The reassurances come despite the fact that accounts for both the Stags Community Trust and Mansfield Town Football Club are currently five months overdue.
When asked about the situation, Mr Haslam insisted the accounts will be submitted and should be publicly available within the next two weeks.
"The accounts were delayed by a few months and the company involved in preparing them has taken responsibility for that," he told Chad.
"But they should be finalised very soon, and they will show that the Trust is solvent."
Development manager Mr Wale has also leapt to the defence of the Trust and dismissed speculation that a drop in demand had caused financial problems.
He admitted the charity had been forced to cut its numeracy and literacy classes because of a change in the way schools receive funding for such courses — but insisted it would be business as usual for the Trust when a new wave of schools funding is released to cover classes tackling issues such as anti-smoking, anti-drugs and anti-obesity.
And in a final message to critics, Mr Wale said the charity is as active as ever and has enjoyed a busy summer — and is looking forward to increasing its activity over the next few months.
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