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Archived News from March 2008

DERRY CONSORTIUM OUT OF TAKEOVER AS BATCHELOR ...
30th March 2008 19:11


Derry consortium OUT of Stags takeover talks
CHAD.co.uk, 27Mar08, exclusive by Tim Morriss

CHAD understands that the Derry consortium is no longer involved in the race to buy Mansfield Town.
The shock news on Thursday afternoon comes just a week after they were hailed as being 'effectively in control' by Stags chief executive Stephen Booth - the man brokering the sale of the football club.

That would seem to leave the way open for controversial businessman John Batchelor, who Chad revealed on Wednesday had made a late bid to buy the club.

Full story at CHAD website here

However, it is not clear if the consortium's current deal has collapsed again - as it did twice in recent weeks when backers pulled out - or if their takeover interest is completely over.

The news once again throws the future of the Stags into turmoil, just when it seemed as though owner Keith Haslam had finally sold the club more than a year after publically stating that was his intention.

On Friday evening, Chad spoke to James Derry - whose consortium included Mansfield businessmen Steve Hymas and Andy Sutton.

He said that he would be meeting Mr Booth on Friday and then issuing a statement.

Mr Derry - who saw his consortium (then including Mr Hymas and others now not involved) fail in a bid for the club last autumn before his new group's now three failed bids - declined to comment further.

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Batchelor offers Stags players bonus if they avoid relegation - and he owns club
Businessman waiting to hear if he has won race to buy Mansfield Town FC
CHAD.co.uk, 27Mar08, exclusive by Tim Morriss

WOULD-BE Stags owner John Batchelor says he hopes to hear later today if he is to take over Mansfield Town Football Club.
The controversial businessman on Thursday completed making his bid for the club and is now awaiting a telephone call.

And he has pledged to offer the players a £140,000 bonus if they avoiod relegation . . . if he takes control of the football club in the next few days.

Mr Batchelor told Chad: "The Football League sponsorship money (around £280,000 a year) is something I have not budgeted for. I have budgeted for being in the Conference and a lower level of income.

"So if we stay in the Football League I will give 50% of this money to the players as a bonus . . . an incentive if you like.

Full story at CHAD website here

"There will be no cost to the club as I have not budgeted for this money and if it helps to keep us in the League, so much the better.

"I have always said that being in the League would make my job so much easier, if I take over.

"The money cane be shared according to the number of matches they have played."

He made a surprise move to buy club on Wednesday - as exclusively reported by Chad - after appearing to be part of the Derry consortium which has already agreed a takeover deal with Keith Haslam.

The consortium - which has now axed the former York City owner from its plans - is meeting Stags owner Keith Haslam on Thursday afternoon.

It is thought that the group - James Derry and Mansfield businessmen and lifelong Stags fans Steve Hymas and Andy Sutton - may try to renegotiate the terms of their agreement.

Just a week ago Stags chief executive Stephen Booth announced to fans that the Derry consortium was 'effectively in control' of the football club, but then it emerged that the group said it only received the paperwork involved in the deal over the Easter holiday.

On Thursday lunchtime Mr Batchelor told Chad: "I am there if the football club wants me. They have everything they need from me.

"But if anyone else wants to buy the club, then fair enough. I understand that Keith (Haslam) has got to see other people.

"But if I am successful then I would welcome anyone to join me who wants to do things at this football club."

On Wednesday, as Chad exclusively revealed, there was a confrontation between Mr Batchelor and Mr Hymas at Field Mill following the secret takeover talks involving Mr Batchelor, Mr Haslam and Mr Booth.

M Hymas told Chad: "We don't need people like him at the club and in our consortium. He did not tell us about this meeting, he has acted in an underhand way and I have told him.

"He has gone behind our backs to meet Keith (Haslam) and Stephen (Booth). We are not prepared to have him in our consortium. There is no chance that he will be part of our group if we take over."

But on Thursday Mr Batchelor replied: "The reason I went to see Keith (Haslam) without telling the consortium was because I did not think it would have an impact on their situation.

"From my discussions I thought they were now wanting to wait until the end of the season.

"But they are not excluded from what I am doing and everything would have been fine before the confrontation. Now I cannot work with Steve (Hymas), but if the others want to work with me then fine.

"I will not work with people who threaten me and I will not be intimidated by threats in a car park. That has just made me more determined than ever.

"I am not doing this for a laugh. I want to keep the club in the Football League as that is clearly a better place to start from than the Conference."

He added that he wanted to take over the club now while there was still a chance of avoiding relegation.

"It is deeply frustrating to see people sit by and watch this club slide towards the Conference," he told Chad, admitting that he had looked at buying into several football clubs recently.

Mr Batchelor, who ended an interest in Stcokport a while ago, said he had enquired about the situations at Rotherham, Chester and Macclesfield.

"Yes, I am in the market for a football club. I am a football fan and will give it 100%.

"There are commercial opportunities in football that haven't been exploited yet and that is why I think I can make a go of it.

"People think a lot about football, but they have to think more laterally.

"If I can prove to people that I can help and do this takeover before accepting relegation, that has to be a positive for the club."

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I have asset-stripped companies, admits would-be Stags owner
Now ask me questions, Batchelor urges fans
CHAD.co.uk, 27Mar08, exclusive by Tim Morriss

JOHN Batchelor, the flamboyant businessman trying to buy Mansfield Town, has admitted that he asset-stripped companies in the past.
The former York owner is a hated figure among some City fans after taking the club into administration.

And last week he agreed, when questioned by Chad, that he made some money out of York during his short time at the helm of the club.

Full story at CHAD website here

That included buying the club for £1 and then failing to fulfil a promise to buy the ground - amid accusations of failing to divert sponsorship money into the football club.

About York he said: "I did nothing wrong. Yes I made money out of the club, I don't deny it. I suppose I made a profit of about £120,000 over 18 months in total.

"But I did not take a salary and I could have made far more than that on a salary from working elsewhere." - Click here for last week's interview about York City

Now, on Thursday, Mr Batchelor - still waiting to hear if his late bid for the club has been suucessful ahead of an already agreed, but not completed, deal between Mr Haslam and the Derry consortium - admitted: "Yes, I have asset-stripped companies."

Chad asked him about two companies - Solvitol and Besglos - after complaints from former employees, posting on Chad.co.uk stories about the businessman's interest in the Stags.

Solvitol was the third largest aerosol manufacturer, before Mr Batchelor was persuaded by the management team to help organise a management buyout from its owners, a plc.

Besglos was a cleaning company, ironically the place where the colourful businessman started his working career at the age of 17, years earlier.

Mr Batchelor said: "I have nothing to hide. I bought those companies, left the management team in place, strengthened them with additional resources and funded them with my own money.

"I gave the management team six months to deliver, but they didn't so I closed them down - they went into administration.

"I then stripped out the assets for a return on my investment."

Mr Batchelor added: "Let's be clear. I would adopt the same approach at Mansfield.

"I would invest into the business and put a strong management team in place.

"But we can make it work if everyone does what they say they will do.

"If they didn't, then I would have to consider my position, of course.

"But I am a football fan and want to make this work. Sponsorship is a world I understand and I am sure we can attract the bigger companies who could make a difference.

"I ran a motorsport team for seven years, from starting with nothing. And I only stopped because I didn't have the time anymore.

"There are commercial opportunities in football that haven't been exploited yet and that is why I think I can make a go of it.

"People think a lot about football, but they have to think more laterally."

And he repeated his promise to Chad last week, that he would be open about sponsorship deals, the money they brought to the club and his 'commission'.

It is thought that Mr Batchelor wants to take on the Stags under the same terms agreed between the club and the Derry consortium.

That means he would be injecting £500,000 of working capital into a club which has been losing £250,000 annually for the past few years.

He added: "In theory Isuppose you could say I have two years to make a go of this."

When asked what would happen if the money ran out, he repeated: "Then I would have to consider my position, of course."

Under the terms of the buyout agreed by the Derry consortium, it is known that Mr Haslam would sell his majority shareholding for £1 and demand a rent for the use of Field Mill (reduced if the club is relegated) - offering an option to buy the ground at a previously agreed price.

If the owners default on the rent it is thought that the club's ownership would revert back to Mr Haslam.

Have you got a question for Mr Batchelor? Post it below on the CHAD website or e-mail Tim Morriss and we will collate them and put them to Mr Batchelor, who has promised to answer them. Please leave your questions by 5pm Friday and they will then be passed on to Mr Batchelor.

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Batchelor axed by Stags takeover consortium over 'secret' buyout meeting
Flamboyant businessman wants to take over Stags this week!
CHAD.co.uk, 26Mar2008, exclusive by Tim Morriss

COLOURFUL businessman John Batchelor has been axed from the Derry consortium trying to buy Mansfield Town - but wants to become the new sole owner of the club this week.
It has emerged that Mr Batchelor, who had told the Derry group he wanted to join the consortium, held 'secret' takeover talks with Stags owner Keith Haslam and chief executive Stephen Booth at Field Mill on Wednesday afternoon.

Chad understands that the flamboyant businessman now hopes to secure a deal for the football club very quickly, after another dramatic few hours in the takeover saga at Field Mill.

He wants to take over at the Stags while there is still time to avoid relegation from the Football League and is believed to have a management team - including a former England international - ready to join him.

Full story here http://www.chad.co.uk/stags/Batchelor-axed-by-Stags-takeover.3917820.jp

So Thursday could be yet another D-Day for the protracted sale of the club - with both the Derry consortium, which it is thought may try to renegotiate an already agreed a takeover deal, and Mr Batchelor due to meet Mr Haslam.

Chad exclusively revealed earlier today that Mr Batchelor, the owner of York City when it went into administration five years ago, was prepared to launch his own buyout bid if the Derry takeover failed.

But this afternoon his 'secret' meeting angered the Derry consortium - Stags non-executive chairman James Derry and Mansfield businessmen Steve Hymas and Andy Sutton - which has an agreed deal with Mr Haslam.

Afterwards Mr Hymas, who would be chief executive in the short-term if the Derry bid is successful, confronted Mr Batchelor at Field Mill and told him that he was no longer welcome in the consortium.

"We don't need people like him at the club and in our consortium. He did not tell us about this meeting, he has acted in an underhand way and I have told him," Hr Hymas told Chad.

"He has gone behind our backs to meet Keith (Haslam) and Stephen (Booth). We are not prepared to have him in our consortium.

"I have nothing against Keith and Stephen in this, but he didn't have the courtesy to let us know he was going it alone in trying to buy the club.

"We welcomed him to join our deal, showed him our deal, and then welcomed him to the ground on Saturday.

"This is how he repays us. There is no chance that he will be part of our group if we take over."

Mr Hymas added that the consortium was still interested in buying the Stags and will be meeting Mr Haslam on Thursday.

The group had invited Mr Batchelor to the Stags' last two matches after he said he wanted to buy into their takeover plan and was prepared to match their individual £100,000+ investment.

The consortium planned to use Mr Batchelor, well known nationally for his 'wacky' fundraising ideas, on the commercial side of the club, bringing in extra revenue from national sources.

And last Thursday Mr Booth announced that the consortium was 'effectively in control' at Field Mill, after takeover talks earlier that day.

However, on Tuesday Mr Derry added that the group's lawyers had yet to see the takeover paperwork which they received only on Saturday.

When asked on Tuesday about his solo interest, Mr Batchelor would only tell Chad: "If other individuals investing in the consortium felt the risk too big to commit to before the end of the season, then I would be prepared to take that risk myself.

"Why would I do it? Because it is a lot easier to try to build the club when it is in Division Two and the Football League, than from the Conference.

"If we act now there is still time to save the club from relegation."

If Mr Batchelor takes over, he says he has a three-strong management team ready to step in to try to save the Stags from relegation. One is a former England international and another could also be used as a player.

And Chad understands that with Thursday being the deadline day for loan signings for the rest of the season, that, too, could play a part in his plans.

The agreed takeover with the Derry consortium would see the group buy Mr Haslam's majority shares in Mansfield Town FC Ltd for £1, pay an annual rent for using Field Mill and have an option to buy the ground in the future.

It has not been made clear if Mr Haslam would repay his outstanding £500,000 loan to the club or what would happen to the minority shareholders in the football club.

But it would appear, given the urgency of Mr Batchelor's plans, that it is this deal which he would want to use as the basis for his takeover.

On Wednesday evening Mr Booth declined to comment when asked by Chad about this afternoon's meeting.

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Stags takeover confusion as controversial businessmen may step in
CHAD, 26Mar2008, exclusive by Tim Morriss

CONFUSION once again surrounds the takeover at Mansfield Town — just when it looked as though the club was going to be sold.
For it has emerged that controversial businessman and ex-football club owner John Batchelor is ready to launch a quick, solo bid for the Stags - just a few days after Chad.co.uk, reported that he was in talks to join the Derry consortium.

Batchelor, vilified by some fans for taking York City into administration in 2002, is understood to be prepared to step in if the Derry consortium fails to buy out Keith Haslam — as the protracted sale of the football club enters a 17th month.

Full story here http://www.chad.co.uk/stags/Stags-takeover-confusion-as-controversial.3912094.jp

The Stags owner has agreed a deal with the consortium, which on Thursday looked on course to be taking over at Field Mill after unveiling a new partner — Mansfield businessman and lifelong fan Andy Sutton from club sponsors A. Sutton Pipelines Ltd (ASPL) — as well as a potential investor in Mr Batchelor.

They both came forward to join Mr Derry and Mansfield businessman Steve Hymas after a public appeal for investors two weeks ago — to help the consortium inject £0.5m working capital into the club — following the withdrawal of two backers. Other people have also come forward to donate smaller amounts to the buyout bid.

And at a fans forum on Thursday evening, chief executive Stephen Booth shocked supporters — and the Derry consortium — by declaring: "James Derry and his consortium are now effectively in control . . . in essence the deal is done."

When asked by one supporter if the club had been sold, Mr Booth added: "Yes, but a qualified yes."

The surprise announcement came after a day of negotiations between the Derry consortium, Mr Booth — brought into the club to broker a sale — and Mr Haslam.

But at the forum, exclusively reported first on Chad.co.uk, Mr Derry also warned: "A deal is never done with Keith Haslam until it is signed."

And on Tuesday he told Chad: "We only received written details of the new offer on Saturday morning. It is totally different to the previous offer and needs to be looked at by our lawyers."

The consortium, if eventually successful, is expected to install Mr Hymas, from Hymas Homes, as its chief executive in the short-term with Mr Derry as chairman.

If successful in buying the Stags, it also hopes that fans groups may invest money into the running of the club, in return for a place on the board of directors.

Mr Booth had told the forum at Field Mill that he expected a deal to be completed by the end of this week, but that now seems unlikely.

And following yesterday's surprise news that Mr Batchelor may go it alone, the future of the football club remains uncertain — both on and off the pitch.

Chad understands that the colourful businessman — also known for his motorsport interests and wacky fundraising stunts — is keen to take charge at Field Mill while the club still has a chance of staying in the Football League.

He would want to complete quickly on the deal agreed by the Derry consortium and is thought to have his own management team ready to step in and take over the playing side, too. That could include a former England international in a management trio.

Mr Batchelor, who insisted on Friday that he would be happy to work as part of a team within the Derry consortium, oversaw a great escape for York, stepping in with nine matches left and helping to steer the club away from relegation.

But when asked yesterday about his solo interest, he would only tell Chad: "If other individuals investing in the consortium felt the risk too big to commit to before the end of the season, then I would be prepared to take that risk myself.

"If the other members then wanted to come in, that would be fine.
"Why would I do it? Because it is a lot easier to try to build the club when it is in Division Two and the Football League, than from the Conference.

"If we act now there is still time to save the club from relegation."

On Friday, Chad.co.uk had revealed that Mr Batchelor may join the Derry consortium to develop extra revenue ideas — and in an exclusive interview he said he had unfinished business in football, urging sceptical Stags fans to give him a chance.

He has been in talks with Mr Derry to join the group and met the other two major investors, Mr Hymas and Mr Sutton, for the first time on Saturday before the Grimsby match.

However, the Derry consortium has yet to make a final decision on the make-up of its group and yesterday declined to comment on news that Mr Batchelor could make a solo bid.

Mr Booth also said he could not comment on Mr Batchelor's comments, adding: "Nothing has changed from Thursday as far as I and the club are concerned. The deal is there with James' team and that is what I am looking forward to completing."

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