Derry resigns from Stags after takeover collapse
CHAD.co.uk, 28Mar2008, By Tim Morriss
JAMES Derry has resigned his position as non executive chairman at Mansfield Town, it was revealed on Friday evening.
It follows the collapse of his takeover deal for the football club, exclusively reported first by Chad on Thursday.
The takeover with the Derry consortium - which also included Mansfield businessmen Steve Hymas and Andy Sutton - stalled for the third time in recent weeks, leaving his position as 'untenable' at Field Mill.
Mr Derry told Chad on Friday evening that he would continue to support the Stags, having formed a strong bond to the club during his 15 months as non executive chairman at Field Mill.
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But it seems as though his dream of owning the football club is finally over - although he told Chad: "The door is open, but having had three unsuccessful attempts to buy the club lately my position is untenable.
"But I will continue to support the club and will be at the match tomorrow.
"That is the important thing now. We must do everything we can to help the players avoid relegation."
On Friday evening the club confirmed it had been in takeover talks with John Batchelor - as revealed by Chad earlier in the week - but says no formal agreement has been reached.
At first it was thought that the flamboyant Mr Batchelor was just trying to match the consortium's deal for the football club - buying the majority shares from controversial owner Keith Haslam for £1 and renting the stadium, with an option to buy it in the future.
But now Chad has revealed that the controversial former York City owner also wants to buy Field Mill as part of his takeover - and may also be interested in buying the often talked about land at Skegby owned by Mr Haslam's own company Stags Ltd.
Chief executive Stephen Booth - brought to the club to broker a sale - said: "There has been a great deal of media speculation regarding John Batchelor.
"I can say that he has met with myself and Keith Haslam. However, no formal agreement has yet been reached. No further comment will be made until there are any significant developments."
Mr Derry said: "For a number of months I have attempted to form a consortium to purchase the club.
"These have not succeeded and I feel my position is now untenable.
"With immediate effect I resign as chairman of the club.
"I would not wish for this statement to oversahdow what is the far more important issue of the game tomorrow and i will make no further comment, other than to state I have been proud and honoured to serve the club and wish it all the best for the future."
Mr Booth thanked Mr Derry for his services to the club.
He said: "I would like to express my thanks for all the efforts that James has put into his role as club chairman for the past 15 months.
"It is with considerable regret that I have accepted James' resignation but trust that he will continue to play a part in the future of the club.
"In the meantime, I would hope that the focus over the coming weeks is on the field, starting with tomorrow's crucial game at Notts County."
Just a week ago Mr Booth announced to cheering Stags fans at forum that the Derry consortium was 'in effective control' at the club.
But the deal was never completed - as happened with two earlier bids in recent weeks when backers pulled out of the Derry consortium.
This time it is believed that the consortium wanted to renegotiate the details of the takeover - including reducing the wanted £275,000 annual rent (£175,000 in the Conference).
But Mr Haslam refused to budge and now it looks as though Mr Batchelor will be the new owner of Mansfield Town FC.
Mr Derry joined the Stags 15 months ago after the departure of Peter Lee.
He first launched a bid to buy the club last summer after a public appeal for backers, but that was finally rejected in December.
The Stags non-executive chairman remained at Field Mill, determined to clinch a takeover deal.
One of his partners in the original Derry consortium, local businessman Steve Hymas - named for the first time only recently - also stayed on board to try to resurrect a deal.
At first it seemed that they had formed a 'dream ticket' with an Australian consortium to take over at Field Mill.
But after three months of negotiations that bid fell through literally at the last hour – the Australians pulling out on the morning of Friday 29th February when the takeover deal was due to be signed after losing their major financial backer.
It ended a topsy-turvy three months which saw the Australians, originally rebuffed in their initial efforts to buy the club in the summer when it looked as though the Derry consortium had completed a takeover deal last autumn, join forces with their rival bidders.
Steve Dolheguy, who headed the Aussie group, started talks with James Derry just before Christmas and then flew to England for five days on 24th January to step up their joint bid.
However, when that bid fell through Mr Derry and his consortium partner Steve Hymas then tried to resurrect the takeover.
But once again their hopes were dashed on Thursday 13th March when a new backer also pulled out on the day the deal was due to be completed.
That led to Derry and Hymas immediately going public about their deal in a bid to attract new partners in a joint venture.
Within a few hours potential investors had contacted the consortium and fans groups also held hastily arranged meetings to try to help.
Just a few days after the public plea Mr Derry also confirmed that he now had one new member in his consortium and a possible fourth major investor.
At a fans forum the 'third man' was revealed as Andy Sutton, from ASPL PipeLines - a Mansfield-based company.
Mr Sutton was introduced to supporters at the forum, where it was revealed that the Derry consortium was now 'in effective control' of the Stags.
Supporters groups also gave their cautious backing to the proposed takeover, but called for more details to be made public.
Just a few hours later Chad revealed that the fourth member of the consortium was likely to be John Batchelor, the former chairman and owner of York City when the club went into administration.
But then, less than a week later, the takeover became complicated once again when Mr Batchelor decided to launch a solo bid and was axed from the consortium.
Then on Thursday Chad revealed that the consortium, which had been trying to renegotiate its agreed deal, had been rebuffed by Mr haslam and their takeover hopes were over.
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