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Archived News from November 2011

SFU AGM AND FANS FORUM - CAROLYN STILL
4th November 2011 13:03


Stags Fans United held its AGM on Wednesday 2nd November 2011, followed by a Fans Forum with Carolyn Still and John Radford. An earlier story was here.

There are more details of the evening below.

In the meantime, in response to a question on Stagsnet messageboard about the court case, Darren Shaw of Stags Fans United clarified:

"The club has not given up the court case. John Radford was just pointing out last night that it may be difficult to obtain an order from the court reversing the transfer of Field Mill from the football club to Stags Limited. However, the football club can still pursue its financial claim of £3 million claim against Stags Limited and Keith Haslam in respect of unlawful dividends, loans from the football club to Stags Limited and Keith Haslam, the land at Beck Lane, Skegby, breaches of directors' duties, compensation for loss of office and unpaid tax. This was always the football club's main case and John Radford said last night that he was prepared to fight the matter all the way and Haslam will have to put his hand in his pocket to defend himself."

And in response to another question about whether if John Radford does agree a price for the ground with Haslam...The court case against him would be dropped? so effectively, Haslam still ends up with the original loan monies, plus the land at Skegby, plus the agreed price for Field Mill?

... Darren Shaw of Stags Fans United wrote:

"I am sure any deal between John Radford and Haslam will be in full and final settlement of all claims. It is normally the case in litigation."

Then, in response to this question: I thought that the argument all along was that the dividends were illegal and that the ground acquisition was done legally but with the illegal dividend funding. I may be wrong but it sounds as though nothing has really changed here.

Steve Hymas, MTFC director, wrote on Stagsnet messageboard:

"You are correct.The actual transaction for the ground was legal.However the dividends to accumulate this amount are in question,aswell as loans ,unpaid tax etc.This comes to a tidy sum and the only asset involved(other than Skegby) is Field Mill.
Hence the court proceedings over alleged illegal dividends.Nothing has changed as this was the case all along.The court case will go all the way other than some agreement that may happen before the court case.
Nothing has changed and Rainworth is only a plan B so that we cant be held to ransom over the promotion issue.
I hope that explains the situation."

Meanwhile Carolyn Still posted on facebook:
so great to spend time with some supporters groups tonight - MTFC is very lucky to have such dedicated followers. Many thanks for everyones input & I shall continue to get us where we need to go... blood, sweat, tears an all X

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by Pete Wright, Stags Fans United:
The following are notes that I took at the fans forum meeting last night.

I have tried to accurately report what I saw and heard last night and apologise if any elements are inaccurate.

Thanks to Chris Revill (Pleasley Stags) for being MC on the evening. Carolyn Still apologised for being late.

Chris Revill started by saying that he and others from various supporter groups had met with Carolyn Still, John Radford and some other directors after the match on Saturday to clarify some of the things that the CEO (Carolyn Still) had reportedly said on Radio Mansfield the week before. Carolyn Still said that it had been very beneficially to meet them and she had not meant to say on the radio that the supporters were not helping the club. She now understands that her words might have been misinterpreted. She fully understands that the various supporter groups are fully behind the club and are willing to help in any way.

Carolyn Still went on to say that it has been a very hectic five weeks, phrases included, organised chaos, not everyone pulling in same direction, not nice behind the scenes, a horrible week cumulating with the Friday radio appearance. More and better communication needed. Now it's calming down with people in place that she & John Radford can trust.

First five weeks, she has found problems with ticketing, stewarding and financial aspects. It has been very challenging and hell of a lot of work to do. Office procedures were not in place. Office now has been 're-jigged'. She realises she is aggressive but things needed to change if the club is to run sustainably and profitable. Turnstile ticketing is a major problem, looking at ways to improve situation.

She has many plans & ideas to see MTFC as the hub of Mansfield. Tomorrow she is attending chamber of commerce and wants to work in partnership. She sees Doncaster Rovers as an example of a successful club. Securing Field Mill is one of the clubs priorities.

Questions from the fans

What is latest on ground situation? - It's a legal matter, 100% confident that it will get sorted, dialogue on going.

What is the timescale? - Plan B in place, not being held to ransom by KH

Are we going to agree a 10 year lease with Keith Haslam as per Mansfield103.2 version of events? - No plans to do that.
John Radford intervened saying that he met with Keith Haslam on Monday afternoon, told him about the Rainworth plans and that Football League are ok with the arrangements regarding promotion. John Radford not paying Keith Haslam's asking price, price is slowly moving in John Radford's direction. John Radford admitted that the ground sale to Stags Ltd from MTFC Ltd was legal and that the court case was not challenging the ground sale. The court case was still ongoing and the club was pressing for a hearing as soon as possible, but Keith Haslam was delaying things. The court case is to win damages from Keith Haslam for allegedly taking money from the club illegally. The likely and best outcome is that Keith Haslam will sell Field Mill back to the club for a fair low price before the case goes to court. However if Keith Haslam does not sell before the court case then John Radford will press the court case and go for maximum damages from Keith Haslam.

Confident of promotion? - Rainworth situation ticks all boxes with regard to FL requirements

Newark & Sherwood Council objections? – No objections from the council

Any dialogue with the Football Conference? – FC only interested in one year lease, which we have, even during court case as long as we pay the £95K annually into the solicitors escrow account.

Is Keith Haslam on hard times financially? – Do not know his financial position.

Could the court case take 3 years? - Possible, but we are prepared to take him all the way if necessary.

Could Keith Haslam sell before court case? – Yes and possible the best scenario if at the right price.

What was the situation with the recent programme notes? - John Radford's notes are normally proof read by John Radford, but on that occasion they weren't and John Radford takes full responsibility for the errors in the programme.
Carolyn Still then went rambling on about paying customers for a successful business and fans need to be treated as customers, visit to Field Mill needs to be an enjoyable experience, we need to be flexible within H&S guidelines and that atmosphere is important and thanks to the young guys for trying to generate good atmosphere.

Do you think you (CEO) are out of your depth? Upsetting supporters groups and the SAG, arguing with fellow directors and various members of staff resigning - I work very hard and admit I might not be perfect, but I am honest and hard working, for the past 5 weeks, I have been working 24/7 and I am not being paid by the club. I was shocked to find the amount of funds that have been pilfered by people. I have put my foot down and arrests have been made. I admit that communication between directors is not good enough but I am trying to improve that. The football club can't continue to lose money; the club must perform commercially to survive. The amount of money the club wasted is unbelievable; examples include the number of unsold programmes, the numbers of unsold printed season tickets.

Are you saying Steve Barker didn't do a very good job? - John Radford intervened by saying that Steve Barker is a good hard working bloke but he trusted everyone and it only needed 2% to 5% criminality to have a disastrous effect on the financial side of the club. Carolyn Still is hardnosed and might upset people, but that's what is needed. We can't have hands in the till and lessons have been learnt. We can't run the club on trust and we need all cash to be fully audited, which we are starting to do, accounting procedures are now in place. A recent home game produced an extra £15K in income on a similar attendance gate figure following the introduction of new cash handling procedures.

Darren Shaw said that the SFU was fully behind John Radford & Carolyn Still in stamping out any fraud and eliminating people ripping off the club.

Dean Foulkes said that the SSA annually hand over funds to the value of about £20 to £25K in various projects in helping the club and is dismayed that money is being illegally taken from the club as it negates the hard work the fans do in order to provide extras for the club.

Carolyn Still gave more examples of the problems that had been found. She said that 120 free pairs of tickets were given out at every home match. She said that this concession system seems to be abused as well as the number of normal concession tickets seem to be unbelievably high. The ticketing and turnstile issue is high on her priority of things to sort. She is looking at a new ticket machine which could be expensive, however the SSA have said that they could help to pay for it.

Carolyn Still also said that the old catering contract was ineffective but an improvement has been seen now that it has been brought 'in-house'. She wants to see the Kevin Bird Suite as the hub, sound financial investment in 'in-house' catering.

The forum concluded by Darren Shaw, the SFU Fans Supporter Director, presenting a cheque for £4,000 from the SFU to help with the legal costs of the 'Free Field Mill' campaign.

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