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Archived News from January 2007

10th January 2007 18:59

CHAD, 10 January 2007

Thanks to Craig for the scans.

online version:

MP starts libel action against Stags fans
CHAD, 10 January 2007

MANSFIELD MP Alan Meale has launched a court action against two Stags' fans who he says posted libellous comments about him on an internet message board.
The MP recently took the Stags' Supporters Association (SSA) to county court over the comments posted on its Stagsnet forum — demanding that the association disclose details relating to the identity of the two individuals.
A judge ruled that the MP was entitled to the information, but also found the SSA's conduct to have been proper and reasonable in protecting its members and ordered Mr Meale to pay all legal costs.
But Mr Meale this week told Chad he expects to recover the costs with a successful libel action against the two fans — whose identity is currently unknown — and says he has already launched legal proceedings against them.
"The SSA said they could not give me information about two people on their website who had defamed me because of data protection laws, so the only way I could get it was to go to court," he said.
"This is about people thinking they can get away with saying anything they like about me — and I'm saying now that they cannot.
"If I win for defamation I will not keep the money, I will give it away."
In a statement released yesterday morning, the SSA expressed 'bitter disappointment' that Mr Meale had taken the supporters' group to court to gain the information.
Said the statement: "SSA voluntarily removed comments from the message board out of courtesy after receiving Mr Meale's complaint and also offered to meet with him to discuss his concerns.
"The judge ordered the release of registration details and found our conduct to be entirely proper and reasonable and endorsed such conduct by ordering Mr Meale to pay SSA's legal costs."
A spokesman for Mr Meale added that the release of the fans' details and the payment of costs had been agreed between Mr Meale and SSA solicitors before being approved by the county court judge.


'Get behind your local club'
CHAD, 10 January 2007

MANSFIELD MP Alan Meale has again told Stags' fans to get behind their club — as angry supporters step up their campaign to force out under-fire chief executive Keith Haslam.
His comments have come in response to floods of emails to Chad from furious fans challenging the MP to give his views on the sale of team captain and top scorer Richie Barker to Hartlepool United.
Mr Haslam has come under attack for allowing the reported £80,000 transfer to go ahead at a time when the club is struggling to keep out of the League Two relegation zone.
This latest controversy comes just 13 months after Mr Meale threw his weight behind Mr Haslam, accusing fans of 'whingeing' and telling them there were 'interesting and exciting times on the horizon' for the club.
Supporters group TEAM Mansfield has now issued a statement calling on Mr Meale to state his views on the club as well as urging fans to support its campaign to force Mr Haslam away from the club.
The group is asking fans to show the strength of feeling against the chief executive by supporting the following actions:
Considering a complete boycott of upcoming games at Field Mill, and donate any money that would have been paid at the turnstiles into a fund to be invested in the club if and when Mr Haslam relinquishes control.
Supporting any bid that is likely to remove Mr Haslam on reasonable terms and is in the interests of MTFC and its fans.
Ask anyone considering corporate sponsorship with the club to withhold doing so until Mr Haslam leaves.
The group also says it is working closely with the Football Association's compliance unit, the Charities Commission and other interested parties over Mr Haslam's governance of the club.
Said a spokesman: "The final straw for many fans will be this week's sale of Richie Barker to Hartlepool.
"Our top goalscorer being sold at a time when we are one point off the relegation places shows Mr Haslam's lack of ambition in trying to keep our club in the Football League.
"The reality of the situation is that Barker was under contract, he was a vital cog in our survival and Mr Haslam could have put the shutters up to any club wishing to purchase him."
And the pressure on Mr Haslam has increased further with the launch of a new Myspace website — http://www.myspace.com/haslamout — campaigning for his departure.
But Mansfield MP Alan Meale has continued to defend the club's management, insisting that it was Richie Barker's own decision to leave and warning fans that their 'negative' support of the club could only do the team harm.
"We should be getting behind the club and the management, but there are groups of people that seem to want nothing more than to do the opposite of that," he told Chad.
"I don't think Mansfield Town will get relegated –– we've got a couple of games in hand and a good young squad with some exciting players coming up.
"The only thing that can pull the team down is if individuals keep knocking the team and trying to give players a lack of purpose."
When asked if he was still backing Mr Haslam in the face of continued widespread criticism, Mr Meale said he supported Mansfield Town and its staff.
Added Mr Meale: "There are 164 people who work for Mansfield Town, and their weekly employments depend on the club staying out of bankruptcy.
"My job is to help keep that club above the bankruptcy line, to look after those people that work there and to make sure Mansfield holds on to its football club."


SSA slam Keith Haslam
STAGS Supporters' Association fired a new broadside at chief executive Keith Haslam today following the departure of Richie Barker.

But the Stags' supremo hit back, asking: "What do they want me to do?
The SSA issued a lengthy statement condemining Mr Haslam's reign as their club hover precariously near the foot of the table with their leading scorer and captain gone.
But Mr Haslam said: "What do they want me to do? I have said I am selling the club.
"Right now I only have three options open to me. I can sell but no one is making an offer.
"I can stay or I can close it down. That is all I have. I wouldn't dream of trying to do that but there are no other options.
"I can't magic up a buyer. I have spoken with other supporters who understand and whose views differ from that statement.
"But there are a certain element looking for ways to disrupt things.
"There is nothing new in the SSA statment apart from the Richie Barker stuff which I have already explained.
"Richie wanted to go - no one ever forced him - and I still believe it was the right deal for Mansfield and for Richie.
"Right now we need people to get behind the club."
The bulk of the supporters' statement read: "SSA would also like to state that we believe Mr Haslam's handling of our beloved club is now at an all time low and would encourage him to sell the club to people with the best interests of our club at heart as soon as possible.
"The disgraceful selling of happy and under contract club captain and top scorer Richard Barker to a club like Hartlepool when the club is one point off relegation to non-League surely proves beyond all doubt in our opinion that he has no intention of moving the club forward.
"During Mr Haslam's 14 year reign our club has spent every year but one in the basement division of the Football League, the worst on pitch record of any owner in our club's history.
"Enthusiasm and fans expectations are now so low that finishing 90th out of 92 clubs to survive as a league club will be seen as success again this season.
"In addition Mr Haslam's reign has overseen countless off pitch sagas bringing unwelcome publicity on our club at local and national level.
"Many Stags' fans only travel away and are refusing to visit Field Mill as the fall in attendances prove. SSA feel that the overwhelming majority of Stags fans want a new owner and SSA will back almost any alternative which will respect our fans and give our club a chance of growing so we can compete again even with clubs like Colchester, Doncaster and Scunthorpe who have sailed above us in recent years.
"Even Chesterfield, hardly a huge club have competed at a higher level than us apart from one season for over ten years now which is unacceptable to Stags' fans.
"Mr Haslam rarely communicates with supporters via the press or even the club programme and acknowledges no value of supporters feelings.
"The club is in our opinion understaffed, underfunded, late with shareholders' AGMs and accounts and the club shop is a permanent symbol of embarrassment.
"Currently fans are protesting, the Commercial Manager has left and yet another team manager has been sacked.
"SSA would stress to Mr Haslam that fans protest because they passionately care about our club, are desperate for success and are frustrated beyond belief with your running of our club.
"SSA respectfully ask you to finally accept that Mansfield Town is a massive part of many peoples' lives and fans have the best interests of our beloved club at heart."
It went on: "Fans pay huge amounts of money to back our club and deserve to be respected and listened to.
"The SSA did accept by invitation of Peter Lee an observatory position on the club's board in the summer and were encouraged when Mr Lee told us he wanted to build bridges with fans. SSA agreed a date with Mr Lee to attend a fans' forum and looked forward to supporters being taken seriously by a fresh face at the club.
"However once SSA informed Mr Lee that if the club were serious about building bridges with fans legal actions against supporters really needed to stop Mr Haslam later informed SSA that Mr Lee would not be available to attend our fans forum.
"All our board meeting dates have since been cancelled by the club at short notice and Mr Lee is not returning our calls. SSA do not currently know whether our board position offer has been removed by Mr Haslam or indeed whether Mr Lee remains at our club.
"Is he happy to be associated with such turmoil?
We have to assume that Mr Haslam is not interested in the views of supporters.
"SSA are encouraged that recently Andy Perry has asked to meet with SSA and we would encourage all fans to be open minded and listen to what any potential new owners have to say.
"SSA will also be seeking to meet with other interested parties in our football club as with a 1000 strong membership we believe the potential is there for us to have a brilliant football club and thriving supporters' club in the future with owners who respect the fans.
"SSA believe in freedom of speech and will not be arranging any form of boycott as people make their own individual choices on the current situation and SSA believe support of the team is paramount.
"However SSA hope that the club respect and understand why passionate Stags' fans are unhappy and want to protest but SSA would advise that any protests are organised in a peaceful and most of all entirely legal manner.
"Finally SSA would like to thank Peter Shirtliff for his efforts in difficult circumstances since taking over from Carlton Palmer, Richard Barker for the memories and we wish Billy Dearden the very best of luck over the next few months as he works to keep us in the Football League."
"Hopefully the year 2007 will see a new owner and new hope for Stags fans who deserve so much better."



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