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HASLAM: TIME TO BACK CLUB AND LEAVE ME ALONE
25/October/2006 22:02:48

HASLAM: TIME TO BACK CLUB AND LEAVE ME ALONE
Evening Post, 25 October 2006
MATT HALFPENNY

Mansfield owner Keith Haslam today urged fans' group Team Mansfield to help the club move forward - rather than trying to hound him out.

Haslam said he would be prepared to meet with the organisation - who are shareholders in the club - to discuss ideas for the future.

But he will only do so if they have "the right motives" and are "positive not negative."

Haslam is also keen to see the body more accountable by publicly declaring the individuals who represent them.

The club's chief executive was responding to a statement from Team Mansfield asking him to "engage fans" in how the club is run.

They are calling for "transparent management" of the club after it was revealed in the latest accounts in the year ending June, 2005, that it suffered a loss of almost £260,000.

"I have never turned down a meeting with a shareholder as long as they have the right motives behind it," said Haslam.

"It's difficult to find a constructive way forward if their aim is just to get Keith Haslam out.

"It will be hard to have dialogue with them if all they are saying is negative things and blaming me.

"I have not seen any positive statements from them on how to take the club forward and how they can assist the club.

"Forgetting Keith Haslam, they have never come out and supported the manager and the team.

"And I can't discuss things with anonymous people. I don't know who runs it and who their committee members are. They never sign any of their press statements either. I think they need to be a lot more transparent, too."

Team Mansfield launched a failed takeover bid for the club last season and also organised a protest march against Haslam's running of the club.

Communication between them and the club has since ceased.

Haslam told the Post last week the hard work of running the club was "not helped by a minority of supporters putting an inaccurate spin on things".

But he claims he was not referring to Team Mansfield in that comment.

He said: "I'm not taking about Team Mansfield and I think they have got the wrong end of the stick.

"I'm really referring to the supporters that were upset not just by the Keith Curle incident but that we missed out on the play-offs.

"We lost supporters that year, no doubt about it. I think there was an element who were disgruntled and were voicing their views."

Team Mansfield were disappointed by Haslam's latest comments but are keen to reopen talks with the club.

"Mr Haslam has always had the telephone numbers of Team Mansfield's joint chairmen Colin Dobell and Jeff Barnes, although Jeff has now stepped down from that role, " said spokesman Chris Vasper.

"They have been, and Colin still is, more than happy to talk with him about the future of our football club in a positive way.

"I think it is important to remind people that until ten months ago we had a relatively good dialogue with the club.

"We tried to meet club chairman Peter Lee and discuss a way forward about two months ago, but that meeting was cancelled."

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CHAD letters, 25 October 2006


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'What are Team Mansfield about?'
CHAD letters, 25 October 2006

I AGAIN read an article in the Chad (18th October) instigated by a Team Mansfield (TM) statement, albeit the author fails to identify him or herself. This is another article focussed on me. Have they ever released a statement of support for the club, the manager or the team, or to explain what they do to assist MTFC?
In their statement TM attribute to me comments that they are a minority that I blame for falling attendances. I have never suggested that TM are responsible for a decline in numbers who watch Mansfield Town. I have said, and been quoted in this paper, that it is my belief that a small group of so-called Mansfield Town supporters don't want me at the club. Further, I am of the view that the regular and continuing criticism of me doesn't just hurt me, it hurts the supporters, the team and the club in general. I have refrained from referring to TM in comments I have made, as quite simply I don't recognise them, apart from them being a minority shareholder. By that I mean I don't know at this time who they are, what their aims and objectives are and what they hope to achieve. Judging by comments I have seen on the Stags' Supporters' Association (SSA) website, I am not alone when it comes to this lack of recognition. Even those who are, or were, supportive of TM appear to want to know what they are about. If their friends, or former friends, are so in the dark, then what chance have I got? To my knowledge there has been nothing posted on their website since April 2006. How many supporters are members? Are members being kept informed of what they are doing?
As I say, I don't know at the moment what TM is about. I do know that originally it was a private limited company subject to corporate law and liable for corporation tax. At some point it changed into an Industrial and Provident Society, 'Team Mansfield Supporters' Society Limited'. As I understand it they attract such status because they have certain stated objects which enable them to register themselves with the Financial Services Authority. These objects are as follows:-
In an area that is defined as Mansfield, Ashfield, Newark and Sherwood, Bassetlaw and Bolsover they undertake:
1) To strengthen the bond between the club (MTFC) and the community which it serves and to represent the interests of the community in the running of the club;
2) To benefit present and future members of the community served by the club by promoting, encouraging and furthering the game of football as a recreational facility, sporting activity and focus for community involvement;
3) To provide and maintain facilities for the enjoyment of professional football;
4) To promote coaching schemes to develop the football skills of young people and to widen interest in football regardless of the sex or ethnic origin of those involved;
5) To further the development of the game of football nationally and internationally and the upholding of its rules.
Will someone from TM tell me and all supporters of MTFC what precisely they have done to further these objects? I know, as they say in their statement, they started a campaign against me in November 2005. Are all their funds raised from members being spent on a campaign to get me out? I call on them to explain, with reference to each stated object what they have done. No one from TM has ever discussed with me how these objects could be achieved. If they want a dialogue let's start here.
Further, perhaps someone from TM would publish their accounts so their members and everyone else can see how their business is run and who benefits.
When I get a full and detailed response to these enquiries then I might be prepared to listen to lectures from members of TM on 'open and transparent management' as I am encouraged to adopt in their statement to the Chad (18th October 2006).
Another thing we all know is that TM were apparently willing to buy MTFC from me earlier this year provided they could raise sufficient money in pledges from no doubt well-meaning MTFC supporters. I never knew, and I am not certain if anyone else did outside a small group of their members, how they hoped to acquire the club and then move forward to build a successful organisation both on and off the field. I never saw a business plan; did anyone else? I understand on the basis of pledges, that is promises of money as opposed to money in the bank, TM would approach financial institutions to borrow money to acquire my interest and thereafter provide working capital to move the club forward to success beyond anything achieved during my ownership. So this plan, as best I can understand it, would have resulted in substantial borrowing secured on the club's assets, putting those assets, i.e. the players, the ground, at risk if ever repayments were missed. With massive interest payments to be made where would the money come from for transfer fees, players' wages and all the other expenses that this club has to meet, and which have been met every month ever since I took over?
Supporters should be aware, and then they might be able to make a judgement on the business acumen of those involved with TM, precisely what occurred at the end of the bidding process that I instigated in February of this year. On the morning of 27th February 2006 prior to 9.00am, TM released a press statement advising that they would not be making a bid for the club. Later on that morning, their co-chairman, for the first time during the whole process, met with their financial advisors. I cannot understand what the purpose of that meeting was in the light of their stated intention before the meeting actually took place. Despite that chain of events, TM accused me of a 'deceitful sham' as I had refused a request for further financial information when that was made to me during the afternoon of 27th February 2006. Why would I release further information when TM had already confirmed that no bid would be made?
TM has, of course, had to apologise for suggesting that I was deceitful (see Chad 2nd August 2006). Having made that apology for defamatory comments they are now accusing me of inaccurate comments and attempting to mislead the Chad's readers. I repeat, I don't and never have blamed TM for falling attendances. For some time, particularly since the debacle over the proposed bid, my view is that what they say and do as an organisation is irrelevant, except where they seek to damage my reputation. Similarly, what their members as individuals say and do, usually under the cloak of anonymity either in the pages of the Chad or the SSA website, is irrelevant.
I have worked tirelessly for 14 years to maintain and improve MTFC. Some may disagree with decisions I have made and that is their privilege but as the club's accountant has reported, we are in a sound financial position to move forward, and I will continue to do everything I can to bring success in the future. My only hope is that the majority of fans of MTFC appreciate that the challenges that I, my staff, the manager and the team face are at times daunting, but we all do our utmost to achieve the best results. Those who stand on the sidelines sniping can carry on if they wish, but don't expect me to listen or show them any respect, particularly as they do not have the courage as individuals to even identify themselves.
KEITH HASLAM,
Managing Director,
Mansfield Town Football Club.


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