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Archived News from January 2011

HASLAM MOVES THE GOAL POSTS
29th January 2011 0:00


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Club statement
mansfieldtown.net, Mon 17 Jan 2011 4pm

We have reluctantly had to remove our previous statement following advice from our solicitors.

We apologise to supporters but understandably, several elements of the statement were of a legally sensitive nature and after being reviewed further by our legal representatives, have now been retracted.

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Club statement
mansfieldtown.net, Sun 16 Jan 2011 7pm

In line with our ongoing policy of transparency with supporters, we wish to make the following statement regarding the leasehold of Field Mill.

http://www.mansfieldtown.net/page/NewsDetail/0,,10325~2268383,00.html

Following the repossession of Field Mill by Mr Haslam in December, we made a statement to the effect that a new lease had been signed allowing us to remain at the ground until the end of the current football season.

This position was arrived at following a meeting between Chairman John Radford and Keith Haslam witnessed in full by Mayor Tony Egginton on 16 December 2010. At this meeting, it was verbally agreed that we would return to Field Mill for the remainder of the season in return for a reduced rental payment to be paid in full to Mr Haslam plus a sum of £2,000 as a gesture of goodwill to cover Mr Haslam's expenses incurred by Solicitor's fees for the re-writing of the new lease.

Crucially, it was also agreed that the new leasehold would in no way affect separate legal proceedings concerning the investigation of dividend payments made to Mr Haslam's company Stags Ltd during his time as majority shareholder of the Club.

This was all verbally agreed by both parties in the presence of the Mayor and the reduced rent payment was immediately paid by us into an account controlled by Mr Haslam's Solicitors to be released once the new lease had been drawn up and signed by both parties.

Unfortunately, we regret to announce that the new lease has not been signed due to Mr Haslam's repeated failure to respect several elements of the lease which were agreed upon by all parties at the initial meeting.

Mr Haslam has reneged on the deal by insisting on a clause being included prohibiting Mr Radford from pursuing the legal case concerning dividend payments against Mr Haslam whilst we remain tenants at Field Mill. Since the meeting, Mr Haslam has also insisted that we pay £3,500 towards bailiff costs during the three week period when he locked us out of the stadium, which we have paid.

We now finds ourselves in the position of having no current lease on the ground through no fault of our own and call on Mayor Tony Egginton, who witnessed the verbal agreement, to work with Mr Haslam to honour it in full.

We wish to make clear that we will not in any circumstance be held to ransom by unreasonable demands made after the original agreement had been put in place.
Whilst Mr Haslam remains wholly uncooperative, he represents an obstacle to our ambition of regaining our rightful place in the Football League and is in no way acting in the interests of the Town of Mansfield of whose fabric, we are such a central part.

We now urge Mr Haslam to do what is right and uphold an agreement that serves both the interests of the Mansfield community and its football club.

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Stags in new rent row/Haslam launches legal action
chad.co.uk, Sun Jan 16 2011 9pm / Mon Jan 17 2011 11am

THE rent row between Mansfield Town Football Club supremo John Radford and controversial former owner-turned-landlord Keith Haslam has reared its head again - just a few weeks after a deal appeared to have ended the acrimony which culminated with the Stags being locked out from Field Mill for more than two weeks just before Christmas, reports Tim Morriss.

http://www.chad.co.uk/news/local/stags_in_new_rent_row_haslam_launches_legal_action_update_21_40_1_2936193

It was thought that the two sides had come to a lease agreement when the Stags - who are pursuing a £3m financial investigation into Mr Haslam's running of the club and sale two years ago - returned to Field Mill before Christmas, following an 18-day lockout over non payment of rent.

However, the club confirmed in a statement on its website http://www.mansfieldtown.net on Sunday evening that agreement was never signed - though the rent in question has been lodged with Mr Haslam's solicitors pending a final agreement, together with extra money to cover the bailiffs costs from December and a £2,000 goodwill gesture to the landlord.

Then in a fresh twist to the saga, it was revealed that the row is set to go before a County Court, after legal action was launched by Mr Haslam.

Chad understood that Mansfield radio station 103.2 was set to report on Monday morning that the landlord is to serve notice of repossession of Field Mill on the football club for non-payment of rent - with a hearing date set for 17th February at Mansfield County Court.

That move was confirmed even later in the evening by Mr Haslam, who issued a statement saying: “I am extremely disappointed that this matter should be aired through the media.

“There is a court action on February 17th and the matter should rest there. I have no further comment to make at this stage.”

The Stags have accused Mr Haslam of moving the goalposts after the pre-Christmas agreement and called on mayor Tony Egginton, who brokered the meeting which saw the club return to Field Mill, to put pressure on the former owner turned landlord 'to honour the deal agreed at the meeting on 16th December'.

The stumbling block appears to have been a clause allegedly added to the lease by Mr Haslam after that meeting, which would prevent Mr Radford from pursuing his ongoing legal case concerning dividend payments against Mr Haslam whilst the club remains tenants at Field Mill.

Chad has spoken to Mr Egginton, who has confirmed that in his opinion an end to legal action against Mr Haslam was not part of the deal agreed before Christmas.

It is not known how the row will affect the club's participation in the Football Conference, which requires clubs to have a lease signed until the end of the season if it does not own its own ground.

On Monday morning a Conference spokesman told Chad that once it was made aware of the situation by the club, it would be asking the Stags 'what the position is going forward'. The matter may then be discussed at the next meetding of the Conference's Board of Directors on Wednesday 26th January

In a statement, Mansfield Town FC said: “In line with our ongoing policy of transparency with supporters, we wish to make the following statement regarding the leasehold of Field Mill.

“Following the repossession of Field Mill by Mr Haslam in December, we made a statement to the effect that a new lease had been signed allowing us to remain at the ground until the end of the current football season.

“This position was arrived at following a meeting between Chairman John Radford and Keith Haslam witnessed in full by Mayor Tony Egginton on 16 December 2010. At this meeting, it was verbally agreed that we would return to Field Mill for the remainder of the season in return for a reduced rental payment to be paid in full to Mr Haslam plus a sum of £2,000 as a gesture of goodwill to cover Mr Haslam's expenses incurred by Solicitor's fees for the re-writing of the new lease.

“Crucially, it was also agreed that the new leasehold would in no way affect separate legal proceedings concerning the investigation of dividend payments made to Mr Haslam's company Stags Ltd during his time as majority shareholder of the Club.

”This was all verbally agreed by both parties in the presence of the Mayor and the reduced rent payment was immediately paid by us into an account controlled by Mr Haslam's Solicitors to be released once the new lease had been drawn up and signed by both parties.

“Unfortunately, we regret to announce that the new lease has not been signed due to Mr Haslam's repeated failure to respect several elements of the lease which were agreed upon by all parties at the initial meeting.

”Mr Haslam has reneged on the deal by insisting on a clause being included prohibiting Mr Radford from pursuing the legal case concerning dividend payments against Mr Haslam whilst we remain tenants at Field Mill. Since the meeting, Mr Haslam has also insisted that we pay £3,500 towards bailiff costs during the three week period when he locked us out of the stadium, which we have paid.

”We now finds ourselves in the position of having no current lease on the ground through no fault of our own and call on Mayor Tony Egginton, who witnessed the verbal agreement, to work with Mr Haslam to honour it in full.

”We wish to make clear that we will not in any circumstance be held to ransom by unreasonable demands made after the original agreement had been put in place.

“Whilst Mr Haslam remains wholly unco-operative, he represents an obstacle to our ambition of regaining our rightful place in the Football League and is in no way acting in the interests of the town of Mansfield of whose fabric, we are such a central part.

”We now urge Mr Haslam to do what is right and uphold an agreement that serves both the interests of the Mansfield community and its football club.”

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Field Mill Ground Row Escalates
mansfield103.co.uk, Monday 17th January, 2011

Mansfield Town are again in dispute with their ground's landlord Keith Haslam.

http://www.mansfield103.co.uk/sport.php?n=1318

The two parties will settle their differences in court next month after the former owner of the club, Mr Haslam, begun proceedings against the Stags.

Last night, Mansfield Town confirmed they have not signed a new deal with Mr Haslam that was brokered in December after the club was locked out the ground.

The agreement was deigned to let the club stay at Field Mill, but the Stags have said it is unreasonable that Mr Haslam has attempted to insert a clause into the deal that would have stopped the club from pursuing an investigation into the former owner's financial dealings with the side in 2008.

A club spokesperson has insisted that the club does not find itself homeless again in the short term.

And, the Stags are hopeful that they'll be able to fulfil their upcoming home matches.

Meanwhile, a statement from Mr Haslam says that he's disappointed this matter should be aired through the media.

He said: "There will be a court case on the 17th of February where the matter will be settled. I have no further comments to make at this time."

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Clubs in Crisis Latest
Keith Haslam Reneges On Verbal Agreement, Say Mansfield Town
Published on January 16th, 2011 by Ian

http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?p=10634

It felt too good to be true. We reported last month on Keith Haslam's decision to evict Mansfield Town from their Field Mill ground and on the subsequent agreement which allowed them to return to the ground before the matter became an issue that could seriously threaten their existence. With a public statement left on the club's official website this afternoon, however, it becomes clear that this matter is not resolved to anything like the extent that it should be by now and that Haslam, who seems fated to return to our attention time and time again as something approaching a pantomime villain, is reneging on a verbal agreement that he reached with the new owners of the club.

It was exactly a month ago that Mansfield Town reached agreement with Haslam over the future of the club's tenure at Field Mill. At the meeting, it was agreed that the club would return to their ground providing a payment was made in full for a reduced rental rate to cover the rest of this season as well as an ex gratia payment to be made of £2,000 to cover Haslam's legal costs in getting the lease re-written. Mansfield Town claim, however, that these weren't the only clauses that were agreed when verbal agreement was reached, and it is the small matter of how Field Mill came to be under the ownership of Haslam's company, STAGS Ltd, in the first place, which has come to be something of a sticking point again.

When the club's millionaire owner, John Radford, took ownership of Mansfield Town, the circumstances under which STAGS Ltd came to acquire ownership of the ground came under immediate – and understandable – scrutiny. Radford appointed the law firm Pinsent Masons to look into the legality of the dividends paid by the club to STAGS Ltd, and they claim that one of the clauses of the agreed on the 16th December that allowed them to return to Field Mill was that this investigation be allowed to continue. Furthermore, they claim that this verbal agreement was reached in the presence of a witness whose credentials, presumably, cannot be understated – the Mayor of Mansfield, Tony Egginton.

The club is now stating that Haslam is reneging on this agreement in insisting on a clause that prohibits further investigation into what was going on with regard to dividend payments while Haslam was the owner of the club, as well as a further payment of £3,500 for bailiff costs resulting from the action that he took last month, although the club states that it has made this payment. What may be curious about this – because, given his history, there isn't very surprising about the idea of Haslam reneging on an agreement that he has made – is the matter of what Haslam may or may not feel that he has to hide from Pinsent Masons. It is surely not unreasonable to suggest that if he has nothing to hide, he has no reason to impede Pinsent Masons in their investigation and, as we discussed on this site before, there certainly seem to be reasonable grounds for them to look into it. Has he got something to hide and, if he has, what it is it, will be the question that will naturally pass through the minds of many Mansfield supporters.

The question, therefore, becomes one of what the validity of an oral or verbal contract might be. In most areas of contract law, verbal contracts can be enforced through the court system, although they can – obviously – be difficult to prove. The presence of the mayor of the town at this meeting, therefore, would be a significant advantage to the club in this situation. In the case of a tenancy agreement, though, matters can be further complicated by the sheer amount of conditions that would be required by such an agreement. In such situations, it is usual for a written Statement of Terms to be issued by the landlord within twenty-eight days of a verbal agreement being reached and perhaps this explains why Mansfield have gone public at this time.

At this stage, it is impossible for us to speculate on the outside on who is legally right and who is legally wrong (the argument over who is morally right and wrong seems a good deal more clean-cut), and Haslam may or may not release a public statement of his own over the next few days concerning this matter. What we know for certain, however, is that this matter throws the future of the club back into limbo. The FA and the Football Conference have rules regarding lease arrangements for grounds in their league and may well not look too kindly upon this matter rearing its ugly head again. It is to be hoped, however, that they look upon this new dispute sympathetically in terms of how they deal with the football club. Moreover, there may or may not be grounds for Radford to query the transfer of Field Mill into the name of STAGS Ltd, and agreeing to drop any investigation could well leave them in hock to Haslam indefinitely. It's a delicate balancing act, but Radford has proved himself to be acting in the best interests since he took the club over – Mansfield's long-suffering supporters will be hoping that he makes the right decision this time, too.

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Latest | January 2011