SAG ENCOURAGED BY INITIAL MEETING WITH MTFC
Stags' crunch talks with safety chiefs
CHAD website, 05 June 2007
SAFETY chiefs today met with Mansfield Town FC officials for the first time since the club's capacity was slashed over complaints of heavy-handed stewarding.
Members of Nottinghamshire's Safety Advisory Group (SAG) say they were 'encouraged' by their intial meeting with the club, as they discussed Nottinghamshire County Council's decision to halve Field Mill's capacity on safety grounds.
Council chiefs had slashed the ground capacity to 4,684 –– less than the 5,000 minimum capacity required for League football –– following unsavoury scenes of heavy-handed stewarding at the Stags' last home game of the season.
The club responded by issuing an apology and sacking several stewards –– along with the club's chief safety officer John Sidney.
Safety chiefs are understood to be pleased with the club's choice of replacement –– which has been announced as retired Nottinghamshire Police inspector Les Norman, but stressed that the restrictions currently remain in place and the situation would be monitored during Stags' pre-season friendlies.
Said the council's emergency planning manager Sue Storey: "We had a very positive meeting and discussed a range of issues how we can work with the club to improve safety.
"The SAG are very encouraged by the appointment of Mr Norman and look forward to working with him. We will continue to monitor the situation on a regular basis at the ground, including the pre-season friendlies.
"They seem determined to take positive action to get back up to full capacity as soon as possible and we are very encouraged by the efforts the club are making to address the concerns we had at the end of last season."
This is the second time in three summers that Mansfield Town has fallen foul of the SAG group and had their capacity cut, after a season that saw repeated complaints from fans about the behaviour of stewards.
On Stags being able to start the new season, Sue Storey added: "Criteria for starting the season is a matter between the club and the Football League, but I don't think it cut and dried that they would be thrown out.
"We will monitor the pre-season games and, if we can, we will look to increase the capacity before their first home game."
Stags chairman James Derry and the Football League were unavailable for comment today.
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