Day: March 3, 2012

On The Brink: Field Mill Forever (Or How Mansfield Town Got Their Ground Back)

Hidden away among the doom and gloom spreading through football like a plague, borne on the backs of greedy money-men, is a shimmering chink of light with the news that Mansfield Town have finally secured ownership of their ground. The announcement that owner John Radford had purchased the freehold to Field Mill was the final axe blow needed to sever Keith Haslam’s link with the club. Despite selling the Stags back in 2008 Haslam has been clinging onto the ground ever since, renting it back to the club and going as far as to lock them out when things didn’t go his way in December 2010. The watershed moment which saw Haslam’s controlling connection to the club swirl down the plug hole came on Thursday. Radford took it right down to the wire, announcing the news that he would be completing the deal on Friday after already agreeing a long term lease extension just hours ahead of a deadline of 5pm imposed by the Football Conference meaning a promotion push for the Stags is now viable with the final box for membership criteria ticked. Barely able to contain his joy, Dean Foulkes, chairman of the Stags Supporters Association, told the local press: “This is fantastic news for the club and finally banishes the black cloud that has been hanging over the club. We now have a wonderful springboard to...

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On The Brink: A Week In The Life Of Port Vale Football Club

On September 25th 2008 the then Port Vale chairman Bill Bratt declared: “I feel the board and I have taken the club as far as we can.” And now, officially, they have. The end of the “Valiant 2001” era at Vale Park, which began when the self-styled “supporters” organisation bought Vale out of administration in 2003 will be mourned by no-one. However, the way it has ended may have longer-term repercussions which will only gradually come to light over time (he says, getting his excuses in early for drawing conclusions laid waste by events). I can’t have been alone in thinking: “Hooray, Peter Miller’s resigned… oooh, hang on… why now?” when Bratt’s brief-but-not-brief-enough successor chairman left Vale last weekend. The immediate practical impact was to make an already-ineffective board formally ineffective, as it fell short of the constitutional requirement of having four members, as well as the general requirement of knowing their arse from their elbow. Football Club and Supporters Club (SC) solicitors reportedly met after Miller’s announcement. No-one would say why, with the SC blaming “political and commercial sensitivities” at the club for their rare silence. Then chairman Pete Williams said they’d been “working extremely hard behind the scenes to get rid of the current regime.” But Miller didn’t get where he is today without knowing where the edge of the law is. Trading while knowingly insolvent is...

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