Field Mill capacity back to 100% this season?
CHAD.co.uk, 6 Nov 2007, By Tim Morriss
THE safety chief behind the restrictions on ground capacity at Mansfield Town Football Club has told Chad she believes the sanctions could be lifted fully before the end of the season.
But Sue Storer, head of the Safety Advisory Group at Nottinghamshire County Council, said the safety culture throughout the whole club must improve first.
SAG has imposed a capacity of just 5,064 on Field Mill – 70% in the North Stand and just 50% in the South and West stands. It follows problems with ticketing and turnstiles this season and stewarding last season.
In an exclusive interview after Saturday's 5-0 win over Macclesfield, Mrs Storer said: "We are working closely with the club and when the remedial work has taken place on the turnstiles in the South and West stands, the capacity there will be increased to 70%.
"However, we are pleased with the work of the new safety officer (Les Norman) and are encouraged by our meetings with the new owner James Derry."
When asked by Chad why the capacity could not be restored to 100%, once the turnstile problems have been eradicated, the safety chief said there were issues with:
SAG are unhappy that some of the Mansfield Town Football Club stewards are not trained to a certain level, but Mr Norman has been 'buying in' qualified steward support when required – and the club has pledged to do so if needed at future matches.
The SAG chief, who met with Mr Derry on Friday, added: "We are very encouraged by the new owners, but as with any change in ownership we need to be able to look at what is happening for a while as there is obviously some uncertainty around.
"The overall safety culture at the club needs to improve, but there is no reason why the restrictions can not be lifted during the season if the necessary work is completed. We will continue to work closely with the football club and keep in regular contact."
However, incoming Stags owner Mr Derry still feels the club is being penalised for the failings of current owner Keith Haslam.
He told Chad: "I don't believe we are now doing anything wrong. SAG are prejudiced against us because of the past, it is unfair and I have told them that.
"We are doing everything asked of us now. Once the turnstiles are sorted I think the capacity should be back to 100%.
"There is a feelgood factor coming back here, we need to get more people into matches and restrictions on capacity does not help, particularly if it was to lead to a match being all-ticket which we know would cost us money."
John Thorpe, who will be an executive director with Mr Derry's new regime, added that he would be attending this Thursday's pre-match ground safety inspection.
He has already held a meeting with Mr Norman and some of the chief stewards; and stresses that complying with safety regulations would be a key agenda item at the monthly meetings of the new board of directors, when it is formed following the takeover.
Mr Thorpe, who wants to make Field Mill a great place to work at and visit, added: "It is important that Les and his team know that they are valued for the work which they do."
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