Monday, 23 October 2017

SFU COMMENT ON HOTEL PLANS

Stags Fans United were disappointed to read news that Mansfield District Council had rejected John Radford’s plans to build a new hotel on the site of the old bus station on Rosemary Street. This had followed John’s initial proposals for a new hotel at One Call Stadium.

As recently as September, we understand that John Radford was directly advised by Mansfield District Council that he should bid for this bus station site, and not press on with his initial plans to develop a hotel at One Call Stadium. John Radford told mansfieldtown.net that “In truth, it feels like I may have been led up the garden path” by Mansfield District Council. Local MP Ben Bradley also commented that he thought Mansfield District Council had been “unwise but also immoral for them to play games” with John Radford.

John Radford most recently went on to say: “I will now carefully consider whether it is in the interests of both the Town and the football club to advance initial proposals of building a hotel at One Call Stadium.”

Stags Fans United would back John to carry on with his original plan to build a new hotel at One Call Stadium, as we think it would be a great asset.

We also think the local authority should support John Radford in his efforts to build a sustainable football league club for the benefit of the town and the local community

Thursday, 28 September 2017

NOTES FROM SFU FANS FORUM WITH JOHN RADFORD


Here are notes from  the Stags Fans United fans forum with John Radford, Steve Hymas, Steve Middleton and Mark Burton, held on Wednesday 6th September 2017

Notes by Darren Shaw and Pete Wright


Q - How do you think the season is going so far?

John Radford – I’m disappointed with the start to the season but it’s a lot better football and we’ve been a little unlucky missing three penalties. There’s a long way to go. There are lots of big clubs through the leagues in similar positions to us. I’m confident we have put the right team together and we have the right manager to take us forward. I would be much happier if we were top of the league because then we would have larger crowds with another 1,000-2,000 fans attending.


Q – Are you disappointed with the gates so far?

John Radford – No because I know gates will only improve when we start winning. Success attracts more fans. Lincoln had a gate of 9,000 the other day. I asked Lincoln’s Chairman why their gates had improved. He said it was all down to the Cowleys who are loved by the fans and the fact that they have been winning regularly and have had success. We just need a bit of success. If our manager does this then our fans will love him even though fans of other teams will hate him.


Q – How does the transfer process work?

John Radford – Agents and players want the best deal. It is a little bit cloak and dagger. Players are chased by a number of clubs. If you put it out in the press that you are going for a player then the price goes up. Players want to sign for a club that is going to be promoted so that is a reason why we have been able to attract players. The fact that we were one of the favourites to win the league also helped. Steve Evans told me about Calum Butcher 6/7 weeks ago but we have only been chasing him for the last four weeks because the Millwall manager changed and he was surplus to requirements. Players not on your list can suddenly become available with a change of manager at a club or because their club has signed a new player.

At the end of last season, Steve Evans gave me a list of players he wanted to sign and it had 26 names on it. The first thing I did was take a photo of it. We signed eight of the twenty six targets. He has pretty much got his ideal team. There were only two players who we talked to who we did not sign. They both went to clubs higher up the league. The last few days of the transfer window were very frantic. George Taft was lined up to go to another club until an hour before the deadline and then Cambridge came in and offered more money. George Taft needed to go out on loan because he was going to struggle to get on our bench. He needs to get regular games. He can come back to us after Christmas.


Q- What about signing strikers? All the fans were waiting for a marquee signing.

John Radford - We nearly had a “Marquis” signing (laughter). There were six strikers on the list but everybody was chasing these players. We managed to sign three of them. Our strikers have some of the best stats around. The list did not include Dave Tarpey.


Q – Were you surprised that Matt Green was allowed to leave?

John Radford – I didn’t want him to leave but Steve Evans said we could get better. We had a year’s option on him and so we could have kept him. The board wanted to keep him but the manager did not want to keep him. Football is all about opinions.


Q- You must have been a bit annoyed by not getting a transfer fee for Matt Green.

John Radford – Yes we turned down £200,000 from Leyton Orient and £50-£60,000 from another club during the season, but that’s football. If I had accepted the offer I would not have been popular. We would have been perceived as a selling club. In hindsight I would have liked to have taken the £200,000 but he still scored a few goals for us


Q- Is it true Ollie Palmer was on holiday with you?

John Radford – He happened to be staying at same hotel and I was surprised to see him when he came and used the next sun lounger to me. It turned out he had received offers from Lincoln and Cambridge and I advised him to choose Lincoln.

Q – Will we receive any more money for Sam Clucas?
John Radford – We are in arguments with Chesterfield about whether we are entitled to another fee. We had high hopes of some money from Tom Naylor’s future moves after Derby but it never materialised.

Q – Why aren’t we blooding more youth players in the first team?
John Radford – Steve Evans does not want to take the risk yet. Our manager really hurts if we lose. I’m a sore loser but he is worse than me and that causes problems between us after defeats. He really wants to win his tenth promotion. If we get miles clear at the top then we will give some of the young lads a chance. I want to get to League 1 so we have a bigger gap between ourselves and the National League. This will give us more security. Promotion to League 1 is our priority.
Steve Hymas – Our youth team is top of the league again for the third year running. I would like to see more youth team players getting a chance but I want to win promotion as well. We have 11 former youth team players on contracts with the majority on loan to gain men’s football experience. We have a great academy. It’s getting better every season. We have ten full time coaches. It is a general problem that youth team players do not always get the chance and time to develop. Managers tend to sign tried and tested players rather than take a chance on youth. There are too many foreign players in the Premier League and Football League.
John Radford – Jack Thomas is a talented player and we are just waiting to find the right club for him to send him out on loan.

Q – What are your views on the Checkatrade Trophy? Should Steve Evans play his strongest team?
John Radford – We had a nice run last season. It would be disappointing if a U23 team reached the final. Steve Evans is confident we can still progress by beating Notts County and Everton U23s. The clubs receive good prize money. We made over £100K last year. The teams receive £10,000 for every group win. Steve Evans wants to win every game.

Q – Are Monday nights “Evenings With….” coming back?
Steve Middleton – Yes they are. We are just waiting until Tuesday night games are not in the way.

Q – What are your views on the goalkeeper situation?
John Radford – We have two good keepers. It divides opinion. We are fully behind both of them. Steve Evans picks the team. He lives and dies by results. Both keepers were on Steve Evans’ target list. They were the ones he wanted to sign because he had worked with both of them before. Steve Evans did not want to sign Jake Kean. He was not on the list. They want to keep clean sheets. Our goalkeeping coach will only get paid if we keep a clean sheet! It’s early in the season but things are starting to gel.

Q – What are your views on the penalty taker?
John Radford – It should be one of the strikers. All the strikers should be able to step up to the mark and take a penalty.

Q – Are you satisfied with the new pitch?
John Radford – We have spent a lot of money on the pitch every year. We’ve brought people in to look at it. Mark Burton (a new Director) who works for Ulyetts Landscapes has been very helpful ensuring the money is well spent. He has helped sort the contracts out and get us some good prices. The grass is cut every other day and growing 6mm a day. The pitch has new drainage (Steve Middleton showed a video of the drainage working before the Rochdale game.) The directors walk around the stadium after each board meeting picking up issues and challenging the stadium management team. There are still some problems but everything is slowly getting better.

Q – There have been a number of complaints regarding queueing at turnstiles, no beer in Kevin Bird Suite on match days, delays in processing card transactions etc.
John Radford – Supporters need to provide specific details. I suggest supporters contact the fans’ representatives so they can bring the complaints to the board meetings. The directors are not always aware of the problems. The board tend to try to fix and solve most problems. If complaints are brought to a board meeting then it is on the radar. We want to make the stadium and ground are a nice place to come to. (New arrangement put in place where all fans’ complaints should go to SSA or SFU as per the post on Stagsnet and Facebook).
I do appreciate the financial support that supporters provide and the £10-£15,000 provided by members of the SSA.


Q – What’s the position with the scoreboard?
John Radford – I wish I had never bought it. It only cost £10,000 and I thought it would be a bargain. We’ve had problems with the software and other issues. I actually bought it from a man in a pub (laughter). It was sold to me by Paul Dixon who owns Retford United’s ground.  I’ve still got some more panels. I could actually make it three times the size. Paul Broughton has assured me it will be working for the Grimsby game. It is not one of my priorities.

Q – How is the training ground at Woburn Road, Pleasley progressing?
Steve Hymas – The original planning application was to remove the stone and the big hump. This has all been cleared. It took a long time. It’s not just a case of putting in a planning application and starting work the next day. These projects take years. We’ve had numerous meetings. You would not believe the amount of meetings we’ve had. There are two grass pitches up there looking very good. Two grass pitches on different levels. Mark Burton has put a lot of work into it. Mark’s staff have come in and seeded and cut the pitches and other grass areas. He’s going to top dress them. Hopefully we will have good news on a start date soon. The pavilion will take a good while to build. A road has to be built up there and street lighting. It is not an easy process.
John and I started up a company called Mansfield Town Developments Limited. We bought some land from Mansfield District Council and some from Notts County Council. The planning is through Mansfield District Council. There are lots of onerous conditions that we have had to comply with. There was originally 3-4 metres difference in levels. We have spent £15,000 on machinery sorting that out.

Q – What are the plans for the Bishop Street Stand?
John Radford – We currently do not have the crowds to justify any plans at the moment. It is one of Paul Broughton’s long term plans. We are looking to turn it into terracing with access from both ends. The depth of the steps would have to be changed. They could be refurbished.

Q – Was hosting an England U19s game a success other than the result and the floodlights?
John Radford – Well at least we found out about the problem with the floodlights. It was a moderate success. It was a good game to watch. We tried to advertise it as best we could. It was a set fee from the FA. We do not get paid based on the crowd. It is geared for children. I was proud to host it.

Q- Why don’t we have embroidered badges on the kit? Some fans complain the badge looks a bit tacky.
Steve Hymas – An embroidered badge costs a lot of money. Most kits are sublimated where the pattern is made part of the fabric. If you want the badge then it increases the cost, timescales to produce it and makes it labour intensive. Sublimated shirts can be very detailed. I like an embroidered badge but it does increase the price.
John Radford – I like this season’s shirt.

Q – Can the fans have a choice of kit during the season?
John Radford – We decided to change the home kit one season and the away kit the next to save fans money. We can produce a new kit every season if the fans want it.

Q – Why did we not play in amber shirts at Carlisle?
John Radford – I get quite annoyed when we do not play in our amber shirts away from home when there is no reason not to. It must have been the manager or the kitman’s decision.

Q – What about Mark Burton’s views on the ground and pitches etc
Mark Burton – Unfortunately we have chafer grubs on the top pitch. It comes in cycles every three to four years. We are treating it at the moment. We’ll give it a second treatment later mid to late spring. We are also laying some new turf.
The main pitch is looking good. It should do. We’ve spent a lot on it. We cut it every other day. It is growing very quickly – six mm per day. We’ve had a few moles up at Woburn.  I’m loving life on the board.

Q – Why has Andy Sutton resigned as a director
John Radford – Andy has not been well and needs to focus on sorting his health out and getting better.

Q – Why can’t we sell away fans more tickets?
John Radford – One of our ticketing systems had the wrong number of seats entered for the North Stand. It was 250 seats out. I made one of my staff go and count all the seats to check. I think the error has now been rectified. There is a difference between “Ticket Only” and “All Ticket”. “Ticket Only” means that away fans have to buy tickets beforehand but you can only sell 90% of the available tickets. Perhaps the reason is that there has to be some space to put fans if more turn up on the day. The police may prefer to let them in the ground rather than have them roaming the town. “All Ticket” means that home and away fans have to buy tickets beforehand but you can sell every seat. We want the stadium as full as possible.

Q – How long are the players’ contracts?
John Radford – Most of the players are on two year contract with the club having an option to extend it. The thinking behind that is that we are hoping to win promotion and so these players will still be with us in League 1.

Q – Why are transfer fees “undisclosed”?
John Radford – It depends upon who is involved the contract. Sometimes players and agents insist they are undisclosed if they are not happy with the value that has been placed on the player. I would happy be to disclose them. I know we have paid more than our transfer record.

Q – Have we broken our transfer record? The previous record was £125,000 for Colin Larkin although Keith Haslam said that we had paid £150,000 for Lee Peacock. Carlisle said we had only paid £90,000.
John Radford - Yes but I am not allowed to disclose who it is. I can say we have paid Peterborough at least £300,000 this year.

Q – Where are we with paying for the ground?
John Radford – There are another two payments left in March 2018 and March 2019. Hopefully we will be in The Championship when I pay my final cheque for the ground. That would be very nice.

Q – Are there plans for another pre-season trip abroad?
John Radford – I enjoyed the Malta trip. We all had a good time and it worked out fine. We are looking at other options next season. We will take the players on a packaged training camp overseas in Austria for example so we do not have to set it up ourselves. There are lots of companies who organise these trips.

Q – Your horses are not making me much money.
John Radford – Your dogs could be eating them soon (laughter). Hugo Boy is supposed to run one good race and one bad race but I’m not sure which is which.

Q – Is Carolyn enjoying being Chief Executive at the moment? She has been in the press a lot lately.
John Radford – She is enjoying life at the moment and helping to attract lots of publicity for the club. She is increasing our profile. This helps to attract players.

Q – Are we doing enough to attract kids to support Mansfield? 
John Radford – We are getting better but we could do better. We could start Little Kickers for 2-4 year olds. It’s nice to see more kids with Mansfield shirts and tops on. All kids under 7 can get into free. It has also helped with Steve Hymas setting up all the youth teams which go down into U7s.
Steve Hymas – All the youth teams had shirts and training tops. The old kits have been passed to other kids so there is around 350 kits that have been passed on and you see kids wearing them around town. The academy is not just about producing players. It is about producing a new generation of Stags fans.

Q – There has been a lot of work on the ground e.g. the dug outs, astroturf around the pitch, the top pitch, the car parks have been cleared out and tidied up etc
John Radford - We are looking at improving the ground all the time. It does not always come down to cost. Some things do not need improving straight away. The astroturf will go to the end of the Ian Greaves Stand at both ends.

Q – Any details about the hotel at the ground?
John Radford – The project manager and architect have been instructed. It is not connected to the Bishop Street. There are meetings in progress. There are a few hoops to jump through. The position of the hotel has not been decided yet. It has to be agreed with Mansfield District Council (planning) and Notts County Council (highways). There will not be much land lost if we have to build a car park. Any car park can be underground or on stilts. A lot of Hilton Hotels are franchises. They take a cut of the fees for introducing clients to you.

Darren Shaw from Stags Fans United thanked everybody for attending and particularly thanked John Radford for being very open and honest with the fans. John has attended seven or eight fans’ forums and had answered every question that had been asked even personal questions. It all helped to increase transparency and accountability at the club. He also thanked Steve Hymas, Steve Middleton, and Mark Burton for supporting the evening and making some good contributions. It was very much appreciated by the fans.

photo: John Radford (left), with Darren Shaw of SFU (centre) and Steve Middleton (right)

Thursday, 24 August 2017

STAGS FANS UNITED AGM and FANS FORUM – WEDNESDAY 6th SEPTEMBER 2017

Stags Fans United will be holding their Annual General Meeting in the 1861 Suite at the One Call Stadium on Wednesday 6th September 2017 at 6.45pm. Here is a copy of the notice of AGM.

The AGM will be followed by a Fans Forum with our Chairman, John Radford at 7.30 pm where members and fans will be able to ask questions about the club. Entry to the SFU AGM is for members only. Entry to the SFU Fans Forum is by purchasing raffle tickets for £2.

Stags Fans United is the Mansfield Town Supporters Trust. It is a non-profit making co-operative which was formed to represent the supporters of Mansfield Town in the running of the football club. Stags Fans United is the second largest shareholder in Mansfield Town and has purchased 10,000 Community Shares and 304 Ordinary Shares of 50 pence each in the football club for around £89,000. It is also represented on the board of the directors of the football club. Stags Fans United also donated £7,000 to the Free Field Mill Fund and assisted the football club with its legal claim against Keith Haslam.

Stags Fans United is always looking for new volunteers who agree with the aims of supporters trusts to help SFU improve its communications with members or to set up and run any new community projects that could be operated under the SFU banner. If anybody is willing to help or has any good ideas then they should not hesitate to get in touch. Further information about supporters trusts can be found on the Supporters Direct website http://www.supporters-direct.org/

Any supporter is welcome to become a member of Stags Fans United. The cost of membership is a one off payment of £100 which can be paid in monthly instalments if required. The best way to become a member is to join our SFU 200 Club for £60 per year or a standing order of £5 per month. This also gives you the chance to win a cash prize in our monthly draws. If you would like to become a member of Stags Fans United then our contact details are on our website.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

UPDATE FROM MANSFIELD TOWN AGM - MONDAY 21st AUGUST 2017

Here is our report on the accounts for the year ended 30th June 2016 which were presented to shareholders at the AGM yesterday. We will also provide an update later on financial and other issues relating to 2017-2018.

MANSFIELD TOWN AGM - MONDAY 21st AUGUST 2017

ACCOUNTS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 30TH JUNE 2016 (2015-2016)

Stags Fans United attended Mansfield Town's Annual General Meeting on Monday 21st August. The meeting was attended by John Radford, Carolyn Radford, Jim Beachill and Steve Middleton.

Finance Director, Jim Beachill, presented the accounts for the year ended 30th June 2016 to the shareholders. This was the season that the football club finished 12th in League 2 under Adam Murray’s management. The main issues revealed by the accounts were as follows:

The football club continued to reduce its losses for the third consecutive year. It made a loss of only £10,077 for the year ended 30th June 2016 compared to a loss of £74,510 for the year ended 30th June 2015 and a loss of £721,146 for the year ended 30th June 2014 (first season back in League 2). This is excellent news as it continues to show that the football club can be run on a sustainable basis. However losses are expected to significantly increase for the years ended 30th June 2017 and 30th June 2018 due to the arrival of Steve Evans and his management team and the new players that have been recruited.

Turnover (Income) fell very slightly to £2,243,164 compared to £2,296,277 in 2014-2015.

Money received from the Football League, Premier League and the Media increased to £753,489 in 2015-2016 compared to £673,366 the previous season which demonstrates the financial importance of the club obtaining promotion from the Conference Premier in 2013 and remaining in the Football League.

The money received from Chesterfield for Sam Clucas from the 15% sell on clause when Chesterfield sold him to Hull City for £1.3 million was included in the accounts. However Steve Middleton confirmed that Chesterfield would not have to pay any more money to Mansfield Town if Chesterfield made a further profit from Hull City selling Sam Clucas to Swansea City for around £15 million.

Expenditure was £1,915,957 compared to £1,878,504 in 2014-2015 and £2,613,099 in 2013-2014. The largest item of expenditure is always wages paid to staff and these were similar to last season. Wages were £1,464,626 in 2015-2016 compared to £1,486,334 in 2014-2015. They were £2,071,083 in 2013-2014.

Matchday Expenses were reduced significantly by £102,046 from £390,534 to £288,458. This is a reduction of 26%. This is much better than the £644,652 paid out in 2013-2014 due to high policing costs when the policing costs for both Chesterfield home games were around £18,000 per game.

Agents fees and expenses were halved from £22,265 to £10,514.

Rent and Rates increased by around £52,000 from £49,079 to £91,777 and Insurance costs increased by around £9,000 from £6,902 to £16,115. Cleaning Costs doubled from £11,964 to £23,547 and Repairs and Renewals also increased from £51,498 to £85,216. Travelling Costs increased from £1,183 to £17,865.

Light and Heating costs were cut again from £5,123 to £1,053. They were £24,664 in 2014!

Other major savings included cutting Marketing Costs from £40,126 to £4,627. Medical Expenses were reduced from £63,589 to £37,621 and Legal and Professional Costs were reduced from £23,751 to £9,793. Entertainment Expenses were reduced from £14,821 to £5,115.

Computer Costs were fairly similar at £14,216. The same also applied to Telephone Costs of around £10,000.

Loans from One Call Insurance Services Limited and other companies controlled by John Radford amounted to £3,934,042 an increase of £39,137 from the previous year. The loans are interest free and repayable on no specific terms.

Loans from the former owners amounted to £1,338,691 with £709,354 being owed to Andy Saunders, £452,276 to Steve Hymas and £177,061 to Steve Middleton.

Steve Hymas and Steve Middleton have agreed to convert their existing loans to the football club into Preference Shares. John Radford has also agreed to do the same for more than £600,000 of loans which means that over £1.2 million of debt should be removed from the club's Balance Sheet in 2016-2017.

There are two payments left of £214,285 to be made to Keith Haslam for Field Mill (One Call Stadium) which are due in March 2018 and 2019.

Thanks to John Radford and Jim Beachill, the Finance Director for their hard work in bringing the accounts up to date and for their commitment to be transparent about the club’s finances and to keep the fans fully informed. This is very much appreciated by the fans.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

CAROLYN RADFORD: THE CLUB BROKE EVEN LAST SEASON

Interesting interview with Mansfield Town Chief Executive, Carolyn Radford, in The Business Desk.
"The club broke-even last season, still a rare feat in football.... On a financial level, the bottom line must be to ensure that the club not only survives, but prospers."

Monday, 15 May 2017

SFU COMMENT ON SEASON TICKET AND MATCH DAY PRICES FOR 2017-2018


Stags Fans United are delighted that the club has offered an early bird season ticket. This was the number one suggestion we made to club when we were asked for our thoughts in April, ahead of any draft season ticket prices.

The early bird prices represent excellent value.

The overall pricing of season tickets is fair and reasonable in our opinion.

We asked the club to look after kids and families by having cheap junior and family matchday tickets. However the matchday prices for kids are still too high in our opinion based on consistent feedback from fans. Kids do not tend to plan ahead to buy tickets and need to be encouraged to attend on a matchday. The cheapest matchday walk up price for a school kid is £14 which we think is far too much.
 
There were two other areas with regard to individual match tickets that we highlighted to the club in April, which came up from the consultation with fans in 2015 and that had not yet been incorporated. These were
-        - Try and keep the adult price around £20. The matchday price for Ian Greaves Upper tier has risen to £24.
-        - Keep match day prices the same as tickets purchased earlier. The consistent feedback from fans was to remove the difference between advance prices and matchday prices, but the difference still remains.

However the fans recognise that if John Radford is providing Steve Evans with a competitive budget for “Project Promotion” then this may need to be partly financed by an increase in matchday ticket prices for adults.