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BOOTH PLEA - RETURN TO FM BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
12/December/2007 12:15:16

'We need 500 more fans to stem losses'
CHAD.co.uk, exclusive by Tim Morriss, 12 Dec 2007
BUSINESS troubleshooter Stephen Booth says he has two clear aims during what he intends to be a three to six-month tenure in charge of the club — achieving stability in the day-to-day finances at Field Mill and finding a suitable buyer for the football club.

"My initial objective is to achieve stability and stem the losses. That has to be through increasing revenue through attendances and commercial activity — there are no costs that could be cut or jobs that could be realistically taken away, though we will make the structure of the non-playing side as efficient as possible.

"We need to rebuild what I would call Mansfield's second team — those who work behind the scenes.

"From the people I have met so far we have some very, very able and committed staff who have worked wonders in a difficult situation.

"But they have lacked elements of leadership and we have got to get that leadership back in place and them working as a team.

"Clearly we have to tackle the losses through generating income.

"To the general public I say: 'Please come and support the team'. Against Peterborough on Boxing Day and against Accrington on the 28th it would be wonderful if we could see some new faces or some old faces that haven't been for a while.

"I also hope that the general public and non-protesters will see me coming and a new start as an opportunity to get behind their club.

"To the sponsors and business people out there, I would say 'Keith is not here anymore, we need you and all your monies would go to the club'."

Mr Booth says that to stem the losses and get back to a break-even position, the club needs to add around 500-1,000 home supporters to the current 1,750 average.

He told Chad: "In an ideal world we would like to add 1,000 to the home gate, that would be amazing to achieve. But if the commercial side starts to achieve its potential then I believe that an additional 500 fans would be close to steadying the ship.

"Really the two have to go hand in hand.

"And I would like to think that the fans and sponsors can help us — as fans did with their sponsorship of the training facilities. For instance, we need £20,000 to invest now to sort out the well documented problems with the turnstile, as well as some seating in the West Stand. That is £20,000 the club does not have at the moment."

Mr Booth added that he also hoped to meet Mansfield mayor Tony Egginton soon.

He said: "This is about all the community wanting a professional football club in the town. It is worth millions of pounds to the town and everyone needs to help me secure the long-term future of Mansfield Town — the fans, the general public, the businesses and the local authorities.

"I know people might have heard this all before, but this time it is different. This time I am in charge of the finances. I hope that the fans, that businesses, can see that Keith is not in charge of the finances anymore and is taking nothing out of the club. Any monies that come will go straight to the club."

Mr Booth also said that he would be looking at offering a 'half season' ticket in the next few weeks to entice back fans.

"If we can stabilise the club, stem the losses and increase revenue, then the club would survive . . . but to thrive it needs a buyer with real money to inject into the working capital.

"The lack of a buyer would result in the club going nowhere. It would continue, but not thrive.

"Keith (Haslam) has made it very clear that he is a very willing seller. He wants and needs to move on, but the deal has to be right . . . what is right for Keith Haslam will be right for Mansfield Town FC. He wants to see that the long-term future of the club is secure.

"Finding a buyer and stabilising the club is achievable and realistic, but we need to see signs of that stability through increased revenue — attendances and/or commercial — very quickly.

"Nothing has been ruled out in terms of bidders and what they might be bidding for.

"But I must stress that I need proof of funds from any bidders and they must be able to inject something like upto £500,000 into the club in working capital," he said.

"I can't stress this enough. The door remains open to anyone and I know that lots of people dream of owning a football club, but to actually progress this club forward there must be working capital — and proof that the funds are in place and a commitment to invest."


'Mansfield Town needs you'
CHAD.co.uk, exclusive by Tim Morriss, 12 Dec 2007
NEW Stags chief executive Stephen Booth has made an impassioned plea for supporters and sponsors to return to Field Mill . . . before it is too late.
He said: "I would ask the wider general public and community: 'Do you want Mansfield to have a football club?'

"If the answer is 'yes', then you need to come back now. We would be delighted to see you. They have to make that decision!"

Already several parties have expressed an interest in buying the Stags since the James Derry consortium was rejected at the end of November — and Mr Booth insists that finding a buyer before the end of the season is 'totally realistic' and one of his two major goals.

The other is trying to persuade fans and local businesses to come back to Field Mill and halt the slide in attendances and commercial activity.

However, the business troubleshooter warned that the club could not sustain its current losses beyond the end of this season.

He told Chad in an exclusive interview on Tuesday: "The club needs stablising in the short-term, by that I mean achieving break-even. If it carries on losing money then serious questions would have to be asked and harsh decisions would have to be taken. The next six months are critical.

"If nothing else changes then come the end of the season there will be no cash left. The money is there for now, but if it continues to haemorrhage there will be problems. We need to stem the losses."

However, he added that administration 'is not an option'. "The club is not in debt . . . in the blackest of situations it would cease to exist like any other businesses losing money. But I am not even thinking about that. That would not happen under my stewardship.

"Mansfield Town is not a basket case, it is a very attractive proposition to suitors . . . and getting the club on a more even keel would make it even more attractive."

Mr Booth succeeded owner Keith Haslam, who stepped down from day-to-day control of the club which is reported to be on course to lose £500,000 this year - following two years of substantial losses.

Already he has met representatives from three major fans groups - Stags Fans For Change (SFFC), Stags Supporters Association (SSA) and TEAM Mansfield (TM) - in a bid to persuade supporters to come back to matches and businesses to sponsor the club.

"I have been impressed by the strength of their commitment to the club," he said. "I would hope that they would see already, by the time I have spent with them, that I want that dialogue with fans - not for my benefit, but for the benefit of the club which has a great tradition.

"I would like to think we can turn any negativity from the past into a positive now.

"It is hard to know what effect the Haslam Out campaign has had, but I hope that those groups would now turn their efforts into a positive support of the club which is clearly close to their hearts - Mansfield Town FC."

He again stressed that the owner is no longer taking a salary out of the club and is not involved in the management at Field Mill.

"In my opinion, Keith will not be involved in the management of Mansfield Town FC again."

He added that as part of his commitment to the club, he would be arranging a raffle/prize draw and donating two tickets - including a meal and drinks - to the England v Switzerland international at Wembley early next year as the prize, with all proceeds going to the Stags.

"The winners would be my guests and I would hope it would give two fans who would not normally be able to go the chance to visit the new magnificent stadium."


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