REPORT OF TM AGM , PLUS BY FANS FORUM
Stags takeover to be completed soon
Stags Fans United annual meeting and fans forum round-up
CHAD.co.uk, by Tim Morriss, 16Sep08
THE takeover of Mansfield Town FC is edging closer, the new owners insisted at a fans forum on Monday evening.
And when it is completed, the trio - chairman Andy Perry and fellow directors Andy Saunders and Steve Middleton - have pledged to sit down with fans group Stags Fans United (SFU) to discuss a possible partnership in return for investment from the new organisation.
On Monday evening the TEAM Mansfield (TM) annual meeting saw that body change its name officially to the Stags Fans United Society Ltd and become the supporters trust for Stags fans.
Already the SFU has raised £40,000 - following a launch at a public meeting in the summer - and aims to raise much more in return for a fans' representation on the board of directors and the chance to increase its 3.3% shareholding in the football club.
At the fans forum which followed the AGM, new Stags chairman Perry added: "We are a lot closer than we were last week to completing the takeover; this has dragged on a lot longer than we wanted.
"But it is a legally binding agreement, there are conditions in there, from both sides, that have to be met and they are being met.
"It is taking more work than we thought, plus there has been the holiday period with lawyers and accountants all away . . . but we are very close.
"It is frustrating for us; we have all put a lot of time and effort in."
The SFU's board - headed by chairman Chris Vasper - includes two representatives from each of the other major Stags' fans groups, the Stags Supporters Association (SSA), Stags Fans For Change (SFFC) and Ollerton Stags Supporters Club (OSSC).
The trust's high profile campaign to raise money for the club in return for its members having a say in the running of the Stags continues to gather momentum - with a major fundraising sportsman dinner taking place later this month.
At the forum its hopes for a fans' director and the chance to add to its minority shareholding were given a guarded welcome by the three Stags owners.
Director Andy Saunders said: "Until we get completition (of the sale) we are not in a position to do anything.
"Then we will sit down with the SFU to discuss the way forward and talk to them about a fans representative and other issues like investment into the football club.
"It makes sense (for a fans director) to come from the SFU, but we will have to sit down and discuss his and formalise where we are going."
Darren Shaw, from the SFU, added: "We are looking for a long-term partnership, we want to keep working together in the future and keep raising funds."
When the takeover was announced this summer, the new owners and their solicitor John Wilford declined at the press conference to discuss details of the deal.
That was again the case at the fans forum, though it was confirmed that the training pitch area at Field Mill would remain with previous owner Keith Haslam.
Chairman Perry also declined to put a timescale on completing the deal and added: "We can't say anything (about the lease, rent or details of the takeover) until it is completed. We may do so after completion."
But fellow director Steve Middleton, an ardent Stags fan, added: "It is the best deal possible for Mansfield Town Football Club."
Stags admission price offers on the way
Stags Fans United fans forum and AGM
CHAD.co.uk, by Tim Morriss, 16Sep08
ONE of the first disagreements between the new Stags owners concerned ticketing prices at Field Mill.
At the Stags Fans United (SFU) fans forum on Monday evening, it was revealed that new chairman Andy Perry had wanted a reduction on last season's £16 admission fee.
But he was over-ruled by fellow new directors Andy Saunders and Steve Middleton - and so far attendances are holding up well at an average of around 2,500.
Perry said: "I said that £18 was too much, but I was outvoted - and they do the figures!"
Saunders told the forum: "I don't mind admitting that Andy Perry wanted to reduce prices, but we said we couldn't do it.
"We felt what we had to offer was good, despite relegatiom."
And Middleton added: "It is a business. If we reduced tickets it would have had an effect on the manager's budget."
He also pointed out that the club's reduced admission offer for the recent Northwich Victoria home match had increased the attendance figure, but meant less turnover.
However, the new owners will be looking at discounted admission for future matches, perhaps a package taking in two consecutive home matches.
And Saunders pointed out the recent initiative with the Kick Start Mini Soccer League, which will see its young members gain free admission when accompanying a paying adult.
"We want to encourage youngsters. There is a similiar deal for our Centre of Excellence and we are talking with the Mansfield Youth League.
"We want youngsters to be wearing Stags replica shirts, not Manchester United's or Nottingham Forest's."
When asked about their aspirations for the next three years, director Steve Middleton said: "We want to get back up (into the Football League) as quickly as possible. I am passionate about this club. If we get back up this season it will be a miracle . . . but within three years, most of us would accept that."
And he cited the example of Doncaster Rovers, who 10 years ago seemed down and out and have since risen from the Conference to the Championship.
He added: "If we could get back this season, it would lift the town. The response to our takeover from supporters has been phenomenal."
Commercial director Bob Gorrill said: "There is a lot of support from businesses, it has been positive . . . everyone is getting behind the club, it is famtastic."
Chairman Andy Perry said that he had been 'encouraged by fresh faces and old faces coming back'.
While new chief executive John Hemmingham reiterated his call in Chad a few weeks ago to try to take home attendances upto the 3,000 mark.
He said: "I urge supporters to bring another fan to games, to get a 'bum on a seat'. I want to see more fans than at the Spirites and Notts County.
"We want fans to come early on matchdays and to enjoy the whole experience, to enjoy the pre-match entertainment.
"I have seen a lot of pride in Mansfield recently, with the Rebecca Adlington success and the Stags going to thne top of the table, instead of taking the mickey.
"That's what we want, the pride back and people wanting to come to the ground.
"For instance, the X Bar has changed a lot already. We will have legends in here on a matchday and perhaps also the manager or an injured player, who the fans can meet say at 12.30 . . . we need to provide something for the fans where they will want to come in early."
The forum was told an online shop for buying Stags merchandise is on the way, 'probably this side of Christmas'.
The club and the Stags Supporters Association (SSA) are in talks over a partnership agreement. The SSA has already committed £5,000 this season, said spokesman Dean Foulkes, and Stags chairman Andy Perry said it was grateful to the group for its 50-50 contribution towards the training facilities at the John Fretwell sporting complex.
Bid to return North Stand to Stags fans
CHAD.co.uk, by Tim Morriss, 16Sep08
MANSFIELD Town's new owners have launched a bid to reclaim Field Mill's North Stand for its home supporters.
Safety officials, on the advice of police, allocated the traditional home end to away fans several years ago - causing uproar among Mansfield supporters.
Police ruled it would be safer to move travelling supporters out of the ground via the retail park behind the North Stand.
Ever since Stags fans have longed to return - and the paltry amount of away fans for matches at Field Mill so far this season, coupled with new ownership of the club, has prompted hopes of a change.
So far this season, just over 400 away fans have attended the five home matches at Field Mill - with Grays (36), Eastbourne (46) and Histon (64) the lowest figures.
On Monday night the new Stags' owners - Andy Perry, Andy Saunders and Steve Middleton - confirmed that they would be approaching the Nottinghamshire County Council Safety Advisory Group (SAG) on Wednesday about the issue.
At the fans' forum following the TEAM Mansfield (TM) annual meeting - when its name change to Stags Fans United Society Ltd was ratified - chairman Perry said: "We will ask what can be done.
"We will show SAG at our regular meeting this week what we have already achieved. The Bishop Street Stand needed work doing, it has been done; various tests have been carried out and some seating which had been corroded has been replaced.
"Some of this has been done without being asked, so hopefully they will see that we want to work with them.
"We want to see if we could put the away fans in the bottom tier of the Wesr Stand or in a corner of the South Stand.
"I know that would open up a can of worms, because we would want our fans going back in there. But then, say when a club with bigger away support - like Cambridge this Saturday - comes, the scenario would change again.
"But it is upto us to prove that we could police our ground in a safe manner."
The forum was told that it costs around £700 to open up the North Stand on matchdays.
Fellow director Andy Saunders added: "It is absolutely ridiculous at the moment.
"To be quite frank we also have too many stewards, it is costing a fortune, milking the club of a lot of income. We need to sort this out with SAG."
A spokesman for the Nottinghamshire County Council Safety Advisory Group (SAG) told this week: "The club have not yet raised this issue with the Safety Advisory Group, but if they did, they would be happy to discuss it.
However, police spokesman Chief Inspector Mark Wakeland added: "Keeping fans safe and reducing the potential for disorder and violence was central to the original decision to change the stands. The current set up has been very effective, with far fewer incidents after matches.
"Although some clubs that visit in recent times may bring fewer fans, intelligence reports suggest crowd behaviour is a potential problem. Whilst we appreciate that some Mansfield fans have an affinity towards the North stand, the safety of the audience is of paramount importance.
"We work closely with Mansfield Town Football Club and all the other agencies involved in safety decisions. Our stance will be to continue to provide the best advice we can, based on the information available."
At the fans forum chairman Perry also made a plea for fans to remain seated at matches, saying: "It is an all-seater stadium. That is the rules."
TEAM Mansfield holds it AGM on Monday at 7.30pm in the X Bar at Field Mill. It is planned that a new board will be elected and the switch to the Stags Fans United supporters trust will take place.
The full notice of the AGM is available at the TM website here.
Following the meeting, there will be a fans forum, open to members of SFU and TM, and as many members as possible are urged to attend.
The fans forum will be attended by the new owners of the Stags — Andy Perry, Andy Saunders and Steve Middleton — together with new CEO John Hemmingham.
Earlier stories here and here
You can now join SFU online, via the website of the Stags Fans United ( http://www.stagsfansunited.com )
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.
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.
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