09 January 2007
Sadly SSA have to report our bitter disappointment that Alan Meale MP chose recently to take the SSA to court following comments made by individuals on the message board of the website http://www.stagsnet.net
SSA received what we considered aggressive letters from Mr Meale's solicitors demanding personal data concerning individuals that the SSA were not prepared to disclose or even legally allowed to give. SSA voluntarily removed comments from the message board out of courtesy after receiving Mr Meale's complaint and also reasonably offered to meet with him to discuss his concerns. Sadly he chose through his solicitor to say he saw no purpose in meeting with us, he then threatened SSA with court action and forced SSA as a voluntary fundraising organization and the official supporters club of Mansfield Town FC, to seek legal advice rather than deal with us in, what we would consider, a more sensible, reasonable and less threatening and expensive manner.
The SSA exist to represent supporters views and have raised thousands of pounds for our club over the years. SSA organize coaches for supporters to attend away matches and organized the recent brilliantly successful children's Christmas party for the club in which over 70 youngsters and parents had a fantastic time. SSA provide and update the clubs next game board and all this work is done as volunteers purely through a labour of love for our club and appears rarely acknowledged or appreciated. SSA try our best to promote the club in near impossible circumstances bearing in mind the feelings of many supporters towards those with influence at our club. Even so SSA have financially helped the Youth Team and PA Announcer after requests this season.
Mr Meale taking the SSA to court just before Christmas was avoidable and has been a very stressful time for in effect voluntary community fundraisers. Since being threatened with court action SSA have had no option other than to follow legal advice throughout. The Judge ordered the release of registration details and found our conduct to be entirely proper and reasonable and endorsed such conduct by ordering Mr Meale to pay SSA's legal costs. SSA will not be commenting further on this issue upon legal advice.
The SSA would also like to state that we believe Mr Haslam's handling of our beloved club is now at an all time low and would encourage him to sell the club to people with the best interests of our club at heart as soon as possible. The disgraceful selling of happy and under contract club captain and top scorer Richard Barker to a club like Hartlepool when the club is 1 point off relegation to non league surely proves beyond all doubt in our opinion that he has no intention of moving the club forward. During Mr Haslam's 14 year reign our club has spent every year but 1 in the basement division of the Football League, the worst on pitch record of any owner in our clubs history. Enthusiasm and fans expectations are now so low that finishing 90th out of 92 clubs to survive as a league club will be seen as success again this season. In addition Mr Haslam's reign has overseen countless off pitch sagas bringing unwelcome publicity on our club at local and national level. Many Stags fans only travel away and are refusing to visit Field Mill as the fall in attendances prove. SSA feel that the overwhelming majority of Stags fans want a new owner and SSA will back almost any alternative which will respect our fans and give our club a chance of growing so we can compete again even with clubs like Colchester, Doncaster and Scunthorpe who have sailed above us in recent years. Even Chesterfield, hardly a huge club, have competed at a higher level than us apart from one season for over ten years now which is unacceptable to Stags fans. Mr Haslam rarely communicates with supporters via the press or even the club programme and acknowledges no value of supporters feelings. The club is in our opinion understaffed, underfunded, late with shareholders AGMs and accounts and the club shop is a permanent symbol of embarrassment. Currently fans are protesting, the Commercial Manager has left and yet another team manager has been sacked. SSA would stress to Mr Haslam that fans protest because they passionately care about our club, are desperate for success and are frustrated beyond belief with your running of our club. SSA respectfully ask you to finally accept that Mansfield Town is a massive part of many peoples lives and fans have the best interests of our beloved club at heart. Fans pay huge amounts of money to back our club and deserve to be respected and listened to.
The SSA did accept by invitation of Peter Lee an observatory position on the clubs board in the summer and were encouraged when Mr Lee told us he wanted to build bridges with fans. SSA agreed a date with Mr Lee to attend a fans forum and looked forward to supporters being taken seriously by a fresh face at the club.
However once SSA informed Mr Lee that if the club were serious about building bridges with fans legal actions against supporters really needed to stop Mr Haslam later informed SSA that Mr Lee would not be available to attend our fans forum. All our board meeting dates have since been cancelled by the club at short notice and Mr Lee is not returning our calls. SSA do not currently know whether our board position offer has been removed by Mr Haslam or indeed whether Mr Lee remains at our club. Is he happy to be associated with such turmoil? We have to assume that Mr Haslam is not interested in the views of supporters.
The SSA are also unhappy that commercial manager Angela Gregory has been allowed to leave the club. Angela gave SSA respect, wanted to help develop our club, had great ideas and was an excellent link between the club and fans, unfortunately Angela appeared to end up doubling up as bar manager as staff appeared not to be replaced and another ambitious person is lost to our club.
SSA are encouraged that recently Andy Perry has asked to meet with SSA and we would encourage all fans to be open minded and listen to what any potential new owners have to say.
SSA will also be seeking to meet with other interested parties in our football club as with a 1000 strong membership we believe the potential is there for us to have a brilliant football club and thriving supporters club in the future with owners who respect the fans.
SSA believe in freedom of speech and will not be arranging any form of boycott as people make their own individual choices on the current situation and SSA believe support of the team is paramount. However SSA hope that the club respect and understand why passionate Stags fans are unhappy and want to protest but SSA would advise that any protests are organized in a peaceful and most of all entirely legal manner.
Finally SSA would like to thank Peter Shirtliff for his efforts in difficult circumstances since taking over from Carlton Palmer, Richard Barker for the memories and we wish Billy Dearden the very best of luck over the next few months as he works to keep us in the Football League.
Anyone wishing to assist the SSA in any shape or form through either sponsorship or wanting to join us please contact us on 07967 689597, SSA membership is now half price for 06/07.
Hopefully the year 2007 will see a new owner and new hope for Stags fans who deserve so much better.
Come On You Stags!
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