STAGS OPEN NEGOTIATIONS OVER MOVE TO NEW STADIUM
Stags open negotiations over a move to a new stadium
Evening Post, 23 Feb 2011
MANSFIELD Town have opened negotiations with the local council over a move to a new stadium – as back-up in case they lose their legal battle for Field Mill.
The Stags are currently at loggerheads with landlord Keith Haslam over their home of 92 years.
The former chairman is trying to repossess the ground over non-payment of rent.
But Mansfield have taken their own legal action, aiming to prove their counter-claim that Haslam acquired the ground illegally and should return it to them.
The first hearing of the repossession case last Thursday saw matters adjourned until April 14 in Birmingham.
But the Stags did demonstrate their ability to pay rent by putting two sets of £95,000 into a 'holding' account to cover this season and next.
Chief executive Steve Barker insists Mansfield remain 100 per cent committed to staying at Field Mill, but would be foolish not to consider other options.
"The best scenario is that the court case will go in our favour and the ownership of Field Mill in transferred back to the club – and we are still quietly confident from what our lawyers tell us," said Barker.
"But we have to look at the worse case scenario too. If Mr Haslam is declared the rightful owner, we couldn't just stay there and be held to ransom over rent.
"We have been given options by the council for a couple of locations where there is ground to build and we can pay a peppercorn rent."
In the short-term, Mansfield need to have a ten-year lease in place on a stadium by March 1 to be considered for promotion to the Football League.
After discussions with the relevant authorities, Barker believes that will be permissible even as part of a ground-share scheme, with Ilkeston's New Manor Ground the most likely venue.
VIDEO: CEO on ground options --->
mansfieldtown.net, Thu 24 Feb 2011
CEO Steve Barker has responded to recent stories that have recently appeared in the press suggesting that we are looking to relocate away from Field Mill.
Mr Barker states that whilst the option of moving to a new stadium has been looked at in greater detail in recent weeks, it is strictly as a contigency plan should current legal proceedings against landlord Keith Haslam not go in our favour.
Far from wanting to leave our home on Quarry Lane, Mr Barker believes that there could even be plans in the future to redevelop part of the existing stadium.
He said: "There's obviously potential (to move) but what we want to do is stop here for another 100 years at Field Mill - that's why we are in court proceedings with Mr Haslam.
"It's nothing that hasn't been spoken about before but we are looking more in depth at how much the cost of the building would be.
"I can't tell you where the sites are, all I can say is that the sites are close to the Town Centre which is our main aim.
"There maybe redevelopment in the Bishop Street Stand. When we get the ground back that maybe something that we do there.
"As you know we had TV cameras down here recently and it would be nice if the cameras and other people were looking at something nicer than the old stand that we've got."
Finally, in an update on how legal matters are proceeding with Mr Haslam, Mr Barker said that there had been no further dialogue with Mr Haslam since our appearance at Mansfield County Court a week ago but that it was still possible that an agreement could be reached to resolve the matter before the case is transferred to Birmingham High Court.
He added: "There's been no indication (from Mr Haslam) but there was a discussion between John (Radford) and Keith at court where there would be a 14 day cooling off period for Keith to look at the offer John made.
"The ideal situation is to buy the ground if the price is right and not extortionate like before because as you know, courts can take a long time to go through.
"It's tremendous the amount of support we have had and it has humbled me and John. It's been a big help. Thank you."
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