MTFC AGM: SHAREHOLDERS ANGER AT HASLAM
CHAD front page, 13 June 2007
Shareholders' anger at chief executive
CHAD, 13 June 2007
By Nick Brimacombe
ANGRY Mansfield Town shareholders and fans launched a scathing attack on the club's worsening financial situation during a stormy annual meeting at Field Mill.
Shareholders vented their frustration to the club's board with their anger directed at club owner and chief executive Keith Haslam.
And shareholder and former club director John Almond led the assault on Mr Haslam with a tirade of questions over the present financial situation and the club's assets — particularly concerning vacant land at Skegby — controversially owned in the name of parent company Stags Ltd.
Shareholders agreed the land — originally bought to build a club academy — should be owned in the club's name.
But Mr Almond pointed out at the 20-strong meeting that 'six years after purchasing the land, there is still no planning permission and the deeds are not in the name of the club'.
Club accountants Hollis & Co defended the Stags Ltd ownership decision, saying the asset would put the club at risk if anything went wrong with the land — while chairman James Derry maintained it was a 'good investment for the future'.
And club secretary Tony Price said: "It is not uncommon for this sort of land to be held in another entity — it's in the best interests of the club."
But Team Mansfield representative Chris Vasper told Chad after the meeting: "The land at Skegby is a massive issue. The land cost £580,000, which could have gone to the actual club yet it's just lying dormant — it's so frustrating."
When quizzed on the club's current financial situation, Mr Derry told shareholders the club was operating in the black — a better position than most teams in the division.
Mr Derry said he also wished to draw a line under matters regarding Mr Haslam's salary increase and donations to the Stags' Community Trust.
"We've had a better year than last year, but we need the club supporters to get thoroughly behind the team, which they haven't been doing — gate revenue needs to improve if we are to succeed in the future," he said.
"There is still a pessimistic attitude towards the club yet we are better off than many clubs and I think we have the best training facilities in the division.
"If we can take 4,000 fans to Meadow Lane for an away game how come we can't get that many at our ground?"
But Mr Almond said some fans would continue to stay away from Field Mill until Mr Haslam had left the club.
And Mr Vasper believes the club needs to show a change of attitude towards fans, Team Mansfield and Stags' Supporters Association if it is to move forward.
"Keith will be the first to admit that his PR with the town has not been great — he needs to embrace the local community," he said.
Mr Derry confirmed the club was still searching for a shirt sponsor for the new season and the club had currently sold around 600 season tickets so far.
Want to share your views? Read Chad's Editorial comment on the situation at Field Mill and leave your comments at the bottom.
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