600 FANS ATTEND PUBLIC MEETING
Use this form here to donate money to the Supporters Trust towards its £250,000 target to help future owners of the Stags in return for a significant say in the running of the club.
Stags Fans United 'blown away' by support at public meeting
CHAD.co.uk, 03 June 2008, By Tim Morriss
AROUND 600 Stags fans packed into Mansfield Civic Centre on Monday evening to back a recently created supporters' group determined to help Mansfield Town Football Club into a new era.
During the public meeting more than £12,000 was donated by fans - the first step towards a £250,000 goal which Stags Fans United (SFU) believes would then give supporters a say in the future running of the Stags.
Full story here
Now the SFU wants more fans to back the cash appeal and provide future new owners of the Stags with a significant financial investment - should controversial owner Keith Haslam complete his protracted sale of the club.
The Stags appears to be in limbo while the owner deliberates over a sale with at least four interested parties – manager Paul Holland still does not know if he has a job next season and no new players have been signed for the first ever season in non league football.
The lack of news a month after relegation from the Football League galvanised fans to attend the meeting and hear SFU's hopes and plans.
It has set a short-term target of raising £25,000 for the SFU Supporters Trust by the end of this week and admitted it was 'blown away' by the interest shown on Monday.
MC Will Lord said: "The first big message we can send from tonight is the fact so many fans are here."
His comments were backed by speakers from national organisation Supporters Direct and supporters trusts representatives at Notts County and Lincoln City, where the fans are directly involved in the running of football clubs.
Kevin Rye from the Government-funded Supporters Direct said; "This is an amazing attendance and show the number of people who care about the club and want to do something about it."
The SFU aims to raise £250,000 to back any new suitable owners in return for shares and a place on the board of directors at Field Mill – and has already held favourable discussions with two parties involved in takeover talks.
The group - a merger of the four major fans organisations at the club, the Stags Supporters Association (SSA), TEAM Mansfield (TM), Stags Fans For Change (SFFC) and the Ollerton Stags Supporters Club (OSSC) – has also called for fans to boycott season ticket sales (when they are announced) and businesses to withhold sponsorship until Keith Haslam completes his protracted sale of the club.
The SFU says that cutting off income to Field Mill until a sale will give new owners the best possible start.
And with business leaders saying that relegation to non league football - under the stewardship of Haslam - is likely to cost the town millions of pounds, many firms, as well as supporters, have already backed the SFU.
Chris Vasper from TEAM Mansfield – one of those behind the SFU – said: "This football club has to be sold right now . . . otherwise it will die.
"Why are we calling for boycotts on season tickets and sponsorship? Because that is the only language Keith Haslam understands.
"Already this club is weeks behind others in the Blue Square Premier.
"We need to invest in new owners and we have spoken to a couple (of the groups in takeover talks with the Stags) who would let us on board if we invest in them."
The SFU has been backed by Mansfield's small businesses and spokesman Victor Bobo told the meeting: "The success of Mansfield Town FC is vital to the local economy . . . the only problem with Mansfield is Mr Keith Haslam!
"The business community in Mansfield as a whole are united behind the fans."
And mayor and Stags chairman Tony Egginton told the supporters: "You have proved tonight by coming that you are deeply interested. I am with you all the way, the only priority now is to get back into the Football League."
MP Alan Meale, who did not attend, gave a guarded welcome to the fans group's aspirations in a statement – saying that he was encouraged by the focus on financial support for the club and new owners, but was concerned by the commercial boycott calls.
At an eventful meeting, Stags chief executive Stephen Booth made a surprise appearance and announced on the protracted takeover at the club: "I believe I am close to an agreement."
If you want to donate money to the Supporters Trust towards its £250,000 target to help future owners of the Stags in return for a significant say in the running of the club, complete a form handed out at the meeting - or look out for it in this week's Chad. Fans are being asked to donate a minimum of £100. Each investor will receive just one vote, irrespective of the amount donated, and have a say in how the trust's money is spent.
Features on the public meeting from BBC Radio Nottingham breakfast show, 03 June 2008, here
Stags fans urged to dig deep to help supporters trust buy into football club
CHAD.co.uk, 03 June 2008, By Tim Morriss
MANSFIELD Town supporters have been urged to donate money to help the newly formed Stags Fans United Supporters Trust buy a place on the board of directors under any suitable new ownership of the football club.
Full story here
At Monday's packed public meeting called by the SFU, passionate speeches were given by fans from both Lincoln and Notts County who have successfully bought into their clubs through supporters trusts.
Now the SFU has ambitious plans to raise £250,000 for any new owners who take over the Stags from Keith Haslam – in return for shares, a directorship and a say in the running of the club for the first time.
And the new group says it has already spoken to some of those involved in takeover negotiations who would welcome fans' investment on those terms.
By the end of this week the SFU – a merger of the club's four major fans groups, the SSA, TM, SFFC and OSSC ¬– hopes to have raised £25,000 in donations towards that target.
Fans are being asked to donate a minimum of £100 in return for a membership card and one vote.
Each investor will receive just one vote, irrespective of the amount donated, and have a say in how the trust's money is spent – and, hopefully in the near future, a say in how the Stags is run.
The SFU Trust will be the new name of the TEAM Mansfield Supporters Trust (which already has 3% of shares in the football club) and be run by representatives from the Stags Supporters Association (SSA), Stags Fans For Change (SFFC), TEAM Mansfield (TM) and Ollerton Stags Supporters Club (OSSC).
SFU is also asking fans and businesses to boycott season ticket sales (when they are announced later this week) and sponsorship of the Stags until Haslam completes his protracted sale of the club.
They blame his 14-year stewardship of the Stags for its relegation to non league football, costing the town an estimated £2m-£5m.
But Chris Vasper from TEAM Mansfield warned: "There is no guy with £5m on the horizon . . . no guy on a white charger ready to ride in.
"We the fans have to make a statement to the new owners to say we have a large sum of money ready to invest into the club in return for a modicum of respect.
"We are doing this for the future of our club. I am sick to death of statements from the club on 'real' supporters . . . we are all real supporters, however we choose to show it.
"We are desperate for your support . . . we are on the edge of oblivion."
And fellow TM board member Darren Shaw said: "We don't necessarily want a millionaire owner who would probably take his money back out at some point in the future anyway.
"We want the club to be run properly for the benefit of supporters. Remember Keith Haslam's loans, money from the play-offs and the sale of players? If that money had been reinvested back into the club, we wouldn't be in the Conference.
"Now the time has come for us raise as much as possible to put us as potential shareholders in the future in a strong position."
Earlier in the evening Stags fans were urged to get involved by three rousing speeches from supporters who have got involved directly in the running of their clubs through supporters trusts.
Kevin Rye from the Government-funded Supporters Direct said supporters must seize this chance of being involved in the ownership of their club.
He said: "We all know who is responsible for where you are now, but the key is that this amazing turnout tonight sends a message to all of Mansfield that this club is loved and that you want a chance of ownership."
He listed the examples of Brentford and the recently promoted Exeter City where supporters trusts have helped to turn their clubs' fortunes around.
But Rye added: "You need to be a proper, thriving part of the football club for years to come . . . the key is that you must be part of it; sign up to help!"
Rob Bradley, a former chairman at Lincoln City and part of the supporters trust which now runs the Imps, said: "This is a fantastic turnout. The amount of will here has to be the start of something new and a recovery.
"You have had it bad now for a long time and have the sympathy of the Lincoln City Supporters Trust.
"A football club is a community asset, needs to act and operate like one – and then will be treated like one."
He explained that the Lincoln supporters trust owns a minimum 25% shareholding – enough to stop any unwelcome development at Sincil Bank and 'give the supporters a say in anything significant'.
He added; "You sure as hell can have a say in what happens at your football club, although you will need allies – like local business people and the local authority.
"Your fantastic supporters groups have come together here already; there is strength in numbers."
And Keri Usherwood, from the supporters trust which now runs Notts County, told the meeting: "When we were in trouble four years ago it was guys like you at Mansfield that helped us and now we can say to you: 'You can do it'!
"Raise funds and hand them over to the new owners in return for something back – a shareholding, seats on the board.
"Help from your local authority is also key. Fans are the heartbeat of a club and the club can be the heartbeat of your town.
"The Notts County Supporters Trust raised £250,000 in just 11 weeks to buy into a consortium . . . you can do it, too.
"It's your club, this is your moment; the amount of people here tonight tells you that."
If you want to donate money to the Supporters Trust towards its £250,000 target to help future owners of the Stags in return for a significant say in the running of the club, complete a form handed out at the meeting - or look out for it in this week's Chad.
How to donate money to the SFU Supporters Trust
CHAD.co.uk, 03 June 2008, By Tim Morriss
THE newly-formed Stags Fans United group has one major aim - to raise £250,000 to buy into Mansfield Town once new owners take charge of the football club.
Their aims were outlined at a public meeting on Monday evening - when £12,000 was immediately raised.
Now the SFU has set itself a target of reaching £25,000 by the end of the week.
All money donated will go to a supporters trust which will invest the money in the club under suitable new owners in return for the fans getting shares, representation on the board of directors and a say in the running of the Stags.
If you want to donate money, the SFU is asking for a minimum of £100 in return for a vote in the supporters trust.
Just one vote will be issued per person, irrespective of the amount of money donated.
To donate money, either fill in the form that was handed out at the public meeting at Mansfield Civic Centre or look out for a copy in this week's Chad.
Stags 'close' to takeover agreement, Booth tells SFU meeting
CHAD.co.uk, 03 June 2008, By Tim Morriss
STAGS chief executive Stephen Booth revealed on Monday that the long drawn out sale saga at Field Mill may soon be over.
To 600 sceptical fans at the SFU public meeting, he said: "I believe I am close to an agreement."
It was his first statement on the takeover situation since 9th May, when the man brought to Field Mill to broker a sale said on the club's website that he 'anticipated a formal response within the next 72 hours' to a sale proposal put forward that morning.
And mayor and club chairman Tony Egginton insisted on Monday: "We are extremely close to clinching that deal."
After the public meeting when pressed by Chad, the chief executive refused to be drawn on what timeframe he meant by 'close' – or who the potential new owner of the Stags could be.
A month ago it was reported that Glapwell chairman Colin Hancock was in negotiations to buy the club, one of four interested parties also including the hated John Batchelor, a local group of businessmen and an overseas party.
However, Booth did hit back at suggestions that the club was in financial difficulty and over the state it would be in when sold.
He told the meeting: "The club when it is sold for £1 will be left with net assets equal to a share capital of £311,000.
"There will be no debt associated with the club. It currently has money . . . Mansfield Town FC is nowhere near administration. It is not on the brink of administration."
His comments came after Mansfield solicitor Danny Phillips revealed at the public meeting details of a failed takeover bid launched by himself and former club sponsor Andy Sutton in April.
Booth also said the long-awaited season ticket sales details would be announced within 48 hours.
And he urged fans and businesses to stop any boycott of tickets and sponsorship, insisting that income from these would be used only to run the club on a day-to-day basis – and not go to Keith Haslam ahead of any sale of the club.
The chief executive added: "It is important to remember that we employ something like 160 people."
It was also revealed that both he and Egginton now had to sign off cheques for running the club. They said this was why fans should not be boycotting income streams to Field Mill.
The mayor added that Mansfield District Council had no interest in buying Field Mill. And he supported the club's chief executive, saying: "Stephen Booth is doing a tremendous job on our behalf. He is working tirelessly to try to end the Haslam era."
Egginton also told the fans that the club had formally applied for a place in the Pontins League next season for its reserve team – and that it would continue its youth development.
He added: "Keith Haslam realises his chapter at Mansfield Town Football Club is at an end. We have to ensure we are prepared for that and to move forward.
"We are not in bad shape financially. The new Mansfield Town will start with a clear balance sheet.
"I have respect for you, ardent fans who have suffered for some time. I am pleased you have united, it is the only way forward.
"And what bigger issue is there than the Football League status of our club? We have just got to bounce straight back."
Mansfield solicitor reveals details of new failed Stags takeover bid
CHAD.co.uk, 03 June 2008, By Tim Morriss
MANSFIELD solicitor Danny Phillips shocked Stags fans at the Stags Fans United public meeting on Monday by revealing that he and club sponsor Andy Sutton had failed in their own buyout bid following the collapse of the James Derry consortium takeover.
It is the first time that details of this takeover bid – launched in April - been made public.
And lifelong Stags fan Phillips:
doubted whether controversial Stags owner Keith Haslam really wanted to sell the club
claimed that the club is not for sale for just £1 as Haslam and chief executive Stephen Booth insist
believed that Haslam is ready to close the club
urged fans to prepare for launching an AFC Mansfield Town-type of club in case the Stags are closed
asked supporters to maintain their boycott of income to the Mill
Phillips joined with Sutton – a member of the Derry consortium – when its deal dramatically fell through around Easter just after a takeover had been announced at a fans forum.
He told the meeting: "The club is not for sale for just £1 – it is £400,001!
"But we came to the conclusion that Keith Haslam never had any intention to sell. We believe the parameters set up make it impossible for any honest buyer.
"So what are his intentions? If you look at what has happened since the end of the season, it would seem there is no intention to run a team next season.
"In my view we have four weeks to do an AFC Wimbledon, in case. If it is in existence, then we have the possibility to keep football in the town.
"But we need to keep up the pressure on boycotts, despite what Tony Egginton says. One thing Keith Haslam understands is his income stream.
"If we say we are not putting money in, then we hurt Keith Haslam badly."
"Perhaps we could as get the local authority to give Field Mill listed status. Isn't it the second oldest football ground in the country?
"And we should make it clear that we would boycott any developer who hoped to buy a closed down Field Mill.
"Only then may we get Keith Haslam to a sale position."
The solicitor added: "Andy and I had £250,000 . . . if someone else wants to join us . . ."
Afterwards he told Chad: "It started when James Derry was sacked. I did not sign a confidentiality agreement. I am just speaking from the heart, the fans deserve to know what is going on."
Chief executive Stephen Booth had no comment to make on Phillips' statement and the claim that the club was not for sale for just £1. But he did say that 'I believe I am close to an agreement' as the takeover saga rumbles on into a 19th month.
Ironically, earlier in the evening mayor and club chairman Tony Egginton had singled out Andy Sutton – now one of those boycotting commercial deals at Field Mill - for special praise.
Sutton – through his company ASPL – was the Stags' major sponsor last season and Egginton told the meeting: "The fact we have not gone into administration this season is thanks to Andy Sutton (who was not at the meeting) and his sponsorship."
Clarifications: TEAM Mansfield will still be the supporters trust but will be renamed the Stags Fans United Supporters Trust. All money and legal transaction will take place through this.
The trust board will be filled by current members of the TM Board (with some stepping down) and by electing representatives from the other supporters organisations (Stags Fans for Change, OSSC, SSA). This will be formalised at the AGM.
Latest | June 2008