BBC TV - HASLAM OUT
BBC TV coverage of Mansfield v Middlesbrough, 26 Jan 2008.
Why I went to cup tie - Haslam
CONTROVERSIAL Stags owner Keith Haslam went to Saturday's big cup tie at Field Mill.
He broke his self-imposed ban on attending home matches and joined the crowd of more than 6,000 for the massive televised FA Cup Fourth Round clash with Premiership Middlesbrough.
After the match when questioned by Chad on his change of heart, he would only say: "It was the biggest game for 25 years here and I wanted to be here."
When told that fans were wondering why he had broken his pledge to stay away, Mr Haslam added: "Who is asking?"
And when asked if he would be at the next home match, he told Chad: "I don't think so."
The owner, who also declined to talk about the match in general and the Stags' performance, was flanked by his friend and former Stags manager Carlton Palmer inside Field Mill.
Mr Palmer - working for the BBC as a Match Of The Day studio guest - then intervened during Chad's questions and said: "He is allowed to change his mind. It is his club. He can come to watch a game if he wants to. What has it got to do with you?"
Earlier in the week Mr Haslam had told Chad: "I have no intention of going at this moment in time."
But sceptical fans still believed that he would go to the match for the first time since September, when he pledged to stay away from the ground on matchdays.
And sources at the club on Saturday morning admitted to Chad that he was expected to be at the ground.
Mr Haslam was then with former manager Mr Palmer outside and inside Field Mill.
And in a pre-match interview on Match Of The Day, Mr Palmer defended Mr Haslam saying that the owner had put his own money into the Stags and built a new stadium.
The unpopular ex-Stags manager told presenter Gabby Logan: "The club is struggling with the supporters wanting the chairman (Haslam) out. He has done a fantastic job over the last 15 years, built a new stadium and the club has come a long way.
"Hopefully the supporters will realise the job the chairman has done here. They will realise if the club doesn't have anyone to put any money into it, who is going to run it, so they can't hound him out."
Those comments prompted a flood of e-mails from angry Stags fans to the BBC, complaining about the lack of impartiality of their pundit.
One fan told the BBC: "The subject of Mr Haslam is an exceedingly controversial and sensitive issue locally and it is vital that in the interests of fairness those who strongly disagree with Mr Palmer's comments - who may also be in a position to expose them as misleading - are allowed to do so."
Supporters have been calling on Mr Haslam to sell the Stags for over a year.
The underfire owner had vowed to stay away to try to stop fans protests during matches, which he said had been deflecting from the players' efforts on the pitch.
Mr Haslam, who has since ended his day-to-day involvement in the running of the club by appointing chief executive Stephen Booth in December, said in September when pledging to stay away on matchdays: "All of this has been deflecting away from the team and that is not good. The abuse doesn't affect me, but it is not in the interests of the club."
His decision to avoid Field Mill on a Saturday has not stopped fans chanting for him to quit the club during matches and staging protests outside the ground - and many always thought that he would attend the Boro match because of its high profile.
Earlier on Saturday morning more 'Haslam Out' signs were put up on lampposts along the Chesterfield Road gateway into the town.
And at Field Mill one disgruntled fan dressed as the Grim Reaper and marched around outside the ground, spreading the 'Haslam Out' message.
The game was twice stopped for a short period when protesting fans threw footballs onto the pitch from behind the empty - and newly boarded Bishop Street Stand - bearing the slogan 'Mansfield Town For Sale' and 'Haslam Out'.
To watch a clip of the balls protests and the Carlton Palmer interview, click here
The protest was not organised by campaigning group Stags Fans For Change, who have been behind other anti-Haslam events over recent months.
SFFC had said it would not stage major protests during the game and confined its anger at Mr Haslam's continuing ownership to protests outside the ground - including one fan dressed as The Grim Reaper and carrying the slogan 'Invest the cup money - keep me away'.
After the game, manager Billy Dearden said: "The balls coming onto the pitch was ridiculous.
"We were building up a head of steam and we were on top. Then it was ended by that.
"It could have been very costly. Even if we had been clear through on goal the referee would have had to blow his whistle when the balls came on.
"I understand their protests but they have been going on for 12 months now and in my opinion there are better ways to protest.
"It broke the game up. All we are trying to is play our football and it doesn't help."
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