{ the news }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Archived News from April 2008

15th April 2008 17:29

Haslam wants buyer to write-off £0.5m loan
More details of sale demands revealed
CHAD.co.uk, 8April2008, by Tim Morriss

STAGS owner Keith Haslam wants would-be buyers of Mansfield Town to help him pay off his controversial outstanding £585,728 loan to the football club as part of any buyout deal.
That would mean he effectively walks away with the now infamous land at Skegby, bought with the loan from the club to his own company, for free.

Haslam has discussed with potential buyers a non-refundable loan from them to help clear the debt, Chad can reveal.

The land, which now has planning permission to be turned into a community sports facility, is worth more than the £0.5m Haslam paid for it in 2000 and he has valued it at £2m to prospective owners of the Stags.

Full story here

There is no suggestion that this move — 'a paper exercise' — is illegal, but it will anger most supporters who had always been sceptical about the owner's claims he would repay the loan.

Haslam has publicly stated he is selling the Stags for just £1 — claiming he is replicating the same deal under which he bought the club 15 years ago.

But chief executive Stephen Booth, brokering the sale of the club, revealed recently that prospective owners would need to show they had a minimum of £0.5m working capital to inject into the club.

This was not a demand when Haslam acquired the club — and neither was the request that prospective buyers help to clear a £585,000 debt.

Mr Haslam, Mr Booth and their advisors have insisted that confidentiality agreements are signed by all prospective buyers, but Chad can reveal that some feel the loan details of the deal have placed them in an uncomfortable position.

In effect, Mr Haslam and Mr Booth have found a way to 'zeroise the balance sheet' — so the new owners would have no debt, but no 'money in the bank' either — enabling Haslam to leave with a 'golden goodbye'.

This has caused disquiet among some potential new owners, although John Batchelor, one of the people in negotiations to buy the club, told Chad this week that his deal would include the club 'writing off all debt from the loans made to Keith Haslam'.

And fans will say that either the club is for sale for £1, as Mr Haslam insists, or that it is in reality for sale for £586,729 – the outstanding loan plus £1.

Mr Haslam loaned the money from Mansfield Town Ltd to his own company Stags Ltd to buy the land at Beck Lane for a training academy and community leisure facility, which has still not got beyond the planning stage, in 2000. Despite later promises, he has never repaid it to the football club.

In December last year both the owner and his newly appointed chief executive Mr Booth insisted that he was no longer taking any money out of the club after stepping down as chief executive.

However, when Chad asked this week if the club was still paying for other expenses relating to the owner, Mr Booth said: "Following his resignation his solicitors negotiated a severance package which includes the payment of various reasonable expenses for the duration of his notice period (six months)."

Chad can also reveal that as part of any sale, the owner wants to retain the two minibuses used to transport players to training – and retain his company Range Rover.

And he would also take a benefit from the sell-on clauses for former players, such as Liam Lawrence and Giles Coke, in the future.

Last week some of the details of the proposed sale were revealed by Chad — a £275,000 rent (£175,000 in the Conference) and an option to buy the stadium for £4.25m.

Today we can also report that if the club was to gain promotion to League One, the rent would increase by £50,000 to £325,000, with the buyers having to give personal guarantees to pay the rent.

And Haslam also wants immunity from any tax liabilities, from his time in charge, which the club might face in the future.

The owner wants to retain the former training ground/five-a-side pitches area at Field Mill, which have been allowed to fall into disrepair, even if he sells the stadium. Sources say he has valued the land at £2m during takeover talks.

Fans have questioned why the area has not been utilised by the club - leaving them to pay for the use of training facilities for the players at the John Fretwell Sporting Complex.


Chad questions Stags over takeover and Keith Haslam
CHAD.co.uk, 8April2008, by Tim Morriss
MANSFIELD Town FC decided on Tuesday afternoon to release a series of questions put to the club by Chad this week - and the responses from chief executive Stephen Booth - ahead of any possible Chad story on Wednesday.
Here are the questions and answers - which formed the basis for our report: 'Haslam wants buyer to pay off £500,000 loan'

Full story here


Now that Mr Haslam is back at the club, is he being paid a wage?

Since 1st December, when he stepped down as CEO, and the public was told he was 'no longer taking any money out of the football club' has the club:

Paid Mr Haslam's company/club credit card bill?

Paid his parking ticket fines?

Paid his expenses?

Paid his legal costs in preparing for his forthcoming court case?

Are there any other personal bills which the Football Club has paid for Mr Haslam?

Stephen Booth said: Keith Haslam last drew a salary from the club in November 2007.

Following his resignation his solicitors negotiated a severance package which includes the payment of various reasonable expenses for the duration of his notice period (six months).

Keith Haslam is not in receipt of any wages from the club.


Is it true that potential buyers are being asked to pay-off the Skegby land loan by lending money in a non-refundable loan to Keith?

Therefore, is the claim that the club is for sale for just £1 misleading?

Is this why you have insisted that buyers show they have the £0.5m working capital – to show that they have the funds to help clear the loan?

Is it true that in any sale of the stadium, the training area/five-a-side pitches area is being treated as a separate package?

Why has the club made no attempt in recent years to repair/maintain the training area/five-a-side pitches?

Is it true that Mr Haslam wants to transfer out of the football club his Range Rover and the two min-buses?

Stephen Booth said:

As the Chad is well aware all negotiations are the subject of confidentiality agreements which contain draconian measures in the event of a breach. As such it is very difficult for the club to comment on the specific points raised. Notwithstanding this I am prepared to state that:

1. The £500,000 working capital was always a sum which would remain in the club.
2. There have been numerous written offers from prospective buyers each prepared by the purchasers solicitors. You appear to have 'cherry-picked' a selection of elements from several of these proposals which I re-emphasise originated from prospective buyers.
3. It has been, & remains, the intention to sell the majority share-holding in the club to the best (not necessarily highest) bidder on terms which secure the future of the club.
4. The training area has not been maintained because the cost of doing so would be disproportionate to the amount of use gained.

Please note that these responses are the last I have to say on the matters raised & I will not respond to any further questions.

Finally all these questions are deflecting attention from the real issue which is trying to ensure League survival for the club. Is this really helping?

With the withdrawal of the James Derry offer the only substantive bid at present is that from John Batchelor – if John Batchelor isn't wanted & Keith Haslam isn't wanted what are the clubs' options? There would appear to be a lot more negativity in the Chad than is warranted. I asked the Mayor to take over the role of non-executive Chairman of the football club in an attempt to give both confidence & transparency to the supporters that every effort is being made to affect the sale of the football club.

All the nit-picking, which seems to be directed at Keith Haslam, but indirectly impacts upon the club is in no way assisting the sale process & I stress, once again, that the continued existence of the club & the maintenance of its' League status remain my priorities. It is vital that everyone gets behind the team & club, including the Chad, at this vital point in the clubs' history. This continued sniping is only serving to put-off other potential bidders & supporters.

It was interesting to note that in last weeks Chad some 9 / 10 pages were devoted to the Stags & yet the match report on the Wrexham game, rather than being the headline news, was relegated to an inside page. How is all the speculation & innuendo assisting the goal of keeping the focus on the team & its' efforts? There will be more than enough time to dwell on the take-over situation once the season is over – people should not confuse personal agendas / vendettas with what is in the best interest of the club.


Latest | April 2008