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Archived News from October 2007

CHAD FRONT PAGE: SAVE OUR STAGS
3rd October 2007 20:36


CHAD front page, 03 Oct 2007

Save Our Stags!
CHAD.co.uk, 03 Oct 2007
MANSFIELD Town Football Club is dying. It is in the most perilous position it has ever been in its proud 110-year history – both ON and OFF the pitch.
Today Chad calls on controversial owner Keith Haslam to end the protracted sale negotiations for the club and part with the Stags NOW . . . before it is too late to save the club from relegation from the Football League – and probable oblivion.

Mr Haslam is no longer attending Field Mill on matchdays. But his much criticised running of the Stags, a perceived lack of investment on and off the pitch and the delay in concluding any sale is taking its toll on the WHOLE club – from results to attendances, commercial activity to safety worries.

On Saturday an abject defeat to League new boys Dagenham – the eighth defeat in 10 matches this season – left the Stags rock bottom of the whole League.

The lowest League crowd at Field Mill for six years – just 2,028 – booed the players off the pitch to chants of 'What a load of rubbish'.

Before the match supporters had taken part in a protest organised by four fans' groups - Stags Fans For Change, the Stags Supporters' Association, Team Mansfield and the Ollerton Stags Supporters' Club - to show their anger at Mr Haslam.

Consequences

Desperate fans feel the fabric, the heart, the history of the club is being ripped out. Even victory in last night's match against MK Dons would still have left the club in the relegation zone.

Worryingly, most observers now fear relegation as a distinct possibility, even though we have only just entered October.

And relegation from the League would have far reaching consequences for the town, far beyond the football club and its long suffering fans.

As Mansfield mayor Tony Egginton told Chad exclusively last week: "It is the economy of the whole town that is at stake. It is vital that we have a Football League club."

Furthermore, relegation might be the least of the fans' worries. Slipping out of the Football League, coupled with the current alarming lack of sponsorship and falling attendances, would surely put the very future of the club at stake?

Off the pitch, for instance, the 'new' stadium — built just seven years ago — has long since attracted the attention of safety officials, who have now clamped down and restricted capacity to 50 per cent after ticketing problems and faulty turnstiles exposed by Chad.

The subsequent safety restrictions will probably mean missing out on at least £25,000 for this month's big local derby with Notts County.

Losses

Figures revealed at the last AGM for the two financial years up to 2006 showed losses of £258,000 and £238,000 (gained from a windfall FA Cup tie at Newcastle and the repayment of £500,000 personal loans by Mr Haslam).

Despite the club's perilous position, Mr Haslam — the first director to ever receive a salary from the Stags — increased his wages by 20 per cent.

Now fans are asking: With a distinct lack of income this season so far, how will the club meet its wage bill over the coming months?

Going into administration is a drastic step that has already been mentioned around Field Mill – and one which would surely condemn the Stags to relegation.

On the pitch, things are going little better for manager Billy Dearden's small squad – despite the fans through the Stags Supporters Association (SSA) paying for training facilities.

Ahead of last night, they had won just one and drawn another from 10 League and cup matches. They won just one of the final 10 matches last season.

Keith Haslam (not for the first time) officially announced the football club was for sale in March – when fed-up fans were protesting and also boycotting matches.

Mr Haslam, who will probably sell the club and rent Field Mill to new owners, has since:

Rejected a bid for the ground AND football club from chairman James Derry.

Rejected a bid for the football club from an Australian interest – a bid rekindled over recent days.

Frustrated bidders by wanting to keep the £585,000 loaned to his company Stags Ltd, from the football club, to purchase land at Skegby.

Spoken of an interest from London.

Last week Mr Haslam told Chad the ball was in the court of the would-be owners. WRONG! The ball is firmly in Mr Haslam's court.

Negotiations are still taking place between Mr Derry's consortium and Mr Haslam – a quick conclusion to any sale and then investment in the club has to be the way forward for the Stags.

Mr Haslam, sell now and give the football club a chance of survival.
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"I have never felt so depressed" - Stags sponsor
CHAD.co.uk, 03 Oct 2007
Mansfield Town FC sponsor and fan for more than 40 years Andrew Saunders wrote the following letter to Chad this week after watching his beloved Stags slide to the bottom of the Football League amidst continuing problems off the field:

I have followed the Stags since 1966, have been a season ticket holder since 1975 and a club sponsor since 1998, but have never felt as depressed as I am now about the running of our football club both on and off the pitch.

The club have been in decline since the Play-off final at Cardiff in May 2004. In my opinion this decline can be laid solely at the feet of Keith Haslam. He has shown a complete lack of leadership in all areas of the club, he has used the club's finances for his own benefit and steadfastly refused to invest in the right players to enable us to progress up the Football League.

Even now at a time when the club is allegedly for sale, this sale has become so protracted because of Mr Haslam's supposed demands on the prospective purchasers. Not only does it appear that he will not have to repay any of the monies loaned to Stags Ltd, but it is my understanding he's insisting on a purchase price of approximately £500,000 and a substantial rental income in excess of £200,000. This at a time when the gates are at a real low, there is none of the commercial activity at the club that there was a few years ago and for the third year in succession the club will make a huge financial loss. What chance does this give the new owners?

The club is worthless. There is nothing in the pot and there is the real possibility that administration beckons in just a few months unless Mr Haslam, for once puts the benefit of the club and supporters before his own personal wealth. After all, Mansfield Town has already made Keith Haslam a very wealthy individual.

Now that Mr Haslam can no longer use the club's non existent funds for his own private use and the windfalls of previous years have dried up, he will move on whilst the new owners are left to pick up the pieces.
David Conn, in his book The Beautiful Game (Searching for the soul of Football) wrote 'Once, football stood for passion, community, honour.

Now it is about money. The game is in danger of losing its lifeblood and its soul'. Never has a truer word been said about Mansfield Town Football Club.

Andrew Saunders.

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MP - League dropout would be 'disaster'
CHAD.co.uk, 03 Oct 2007

MANSFIELD MP Alan Meale says the long-running takeover saga surrounding the Stags needs to be resolved as quickly as possible –– and says dropping out of the Football League would have a disastrous impact on the town's economy and status.
Mr Meale made the comments after Mansfield Town's latest humiliating defeat against Dagenham on Saturday, which left the Field Mill club firmly rooted to the bottom of League Two.

He told Chad: "Everything must be done to safeguard the club and its League status. The sooner a new owner is found to take club forward the better.

"Over the years I have done what I can to safeguard the future of the club. If the club loses League status it will be catastrophic for the area.

"Having a professional club in the area is worth at least £2m in status when Mansfield is mentioned on the football pools. It is not just about status, it is also about what we can offer the community.

"Having a League club gives young people an opportunity to aspire and hope that they can become a professional footballer. The off-field problems is clearly having an effect on the players.

Forget

And Mr Meale is also urging the club's long-suffering fans to forget the off-field turmoil surrounding the proposed takeover bids and rally behind the players.

Said Mr Meale: "I don't think there is any doubt that Mr Haslam will do the deal, but he has to make sure that the bid comes in from people who can meet the club's commitments such as player and staff salaries.

"He will be liable if he walked away and I hope someone comes forward who can do this. Now we all have to get behind the players because they are the only ones who can save the club from relegation.

"The best thing that can happen at the moment is for everyone to get behind the players and staff. It is not the time for shouting and screaming, other than to support the team."

 

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