Stags Fans United held a successful fans forum with Stags Chairman John Radford last night.
Here is a summary of what was said.
The notes are the personal recollection by Pete Wright of SFU:
Expectations this season to win league. Paul Cox has John Radford’s full backing. Couldn’t give Paul Cox full financial backing last season to gain promotion until the ground was sorted. However we nearly made it and full credit to Paul Cox.
This season a lot of money is going into playing budget and training facilities. Indoor training pitch going to be built on old car park at the ground. Hope to start building in Sept and finished by Nov this year. Special high tech/high cost playing surface. This facility is going to cost more than the ground cost from Keith Haslam.
Until new training facilities up and running the club needs somewhere to train as main Field Mill pitch would not stand up to heavy usage. So club is hiring bottom end of Spider Park from council. One of conditions of lease was to have £5m public liability insurance so the club had to control access and keep dogs from messing on the land. That’s why fence erected. Cricket club still using the area and they have keys for the gate. Can’t understand what all the fuss is about as the rest of the park is very large and plenty of room for their dogs. Club hoping to meet residents after residents have had their meeting with council. Fretwell centre had drawbacks; sessions had to be moved to different areas due to ground conditions.
Redevelopment of ground on hold until promotion gained, all monies going to playing squad and training facilities, except for a permanent TV gantry behind sub benches on Bishop Street side of ground.
No longer pressing SAG on North Stand for home fans, majority of home fans approach ground via Quarry Lane. Atmosphere has been great towards end of season with home fans being near the players’ tunnel. No pressure from fans to change ends at present. He has more pressing issues with the SAG in getting the capacity back to 100%. At present it is 90% but mentioned an issue with the SAG about the position of the TV gantry at the York game which the SAG were very unhappy with.
John Radford accepts that catering facilities and kiosks have not been up to standard last season and the club have had plenty of complaints from fans via comment sheets that the fans have filled in. Apparently a major problem was the central cooking area where things were cooked just in one place and then transported out to the kiosks. This season each kiosk will have its own cooking facilities and bottle bars have been installed to cut down queues. In addition kiosk staff will be doubled. Also the club is looking at pre-pulling pints and using Sandy Pate bar at half time to shorten queues.
One Call is very profitable and can afford putting money into MTFC as long as it takes to get back into the Football League. It is very tax ‘efficient’ for One Call.
John Radford has invested £2,528,826 since taking over the club almost 2 years ago. With new Conference financial regulations coming soon the loans would need to be converted to ‘preference shares’ and naming of stadium would be a sponsorship deal. At present (last year?) the playing budget was 80% of total receipts.
Previous directors had signed to say they would only want their loan money back if or when John Radford started taking his loans back. John Radford said he would not want or take his loans back so no need for the old directors to want their loans back now.
However Andy Perry didn’t sign and asked for his loan back, apparently John Radford in dispute with him and told Andy Perry to take him to court if he wanted the money back. Also it was revealed that all the Yellow 08 shares were now owned by Amber 12 Ltd.
Year ending June 12 accounts will be published in Oct/Nov and last years and this year’s AGM’s will be held at same time in Nov.
Court case with Keith Haslam has been dropped now that he no longer owns ground. Solicitors bill £250K, but John Radford got ground for a fair and reasonable price including the training area/old car park land which Keith Haslam wanted to keep but in the end the land and ground transferred to John Radford Stadium Company. However the land at Skegby is still owned by Keith Haslam. Part of the deal in order to gain ground by 1st March so as to be in line for promotion was that Keith Haslam insisted in having a share in any profit if John Radford sold the ground in the next 20 years. Because of this clause in the transaction he will not be able to give the ground to the fans for 20 years. However John Radford ensured everyone that the ground will be always be there for the football club. Due to Inland Revenue rules the John Radford Stadium Co. has to charge MTFC minimum revenue rent for the next seven years.
Car Park season tickets are available but due to reduced car park area fans need to be quick in purchasing these tickets as John Radford could see that they will sell out quickly.
Season tickets will be an electronic card however firm supplying new turnstiles have gone bust yesterday and more than likely temporary paper ticket books will have to be issued for first few matches. Club still needs photos if season ticket holders haven’t given them yet. Apart from the lost ticket reason, main reason is to stop adults using junior or concession tickets. Club has no problem in letting season ticket holders lend their ticket to other folk providing it is same class of ticket. Also season tickets are transferable between stands as long as the bought ticket cost more that the area where the ticket holder moves to. An upper west stand ticket holder could use the ticket in the QLE but a QLE holder couldn’t use it in the Upper West Stand. However this movement might be a problem if a near capacity gate was predicted.
Steve Middleton was on top table with John Radford, Darren Shaw, Mark Hawkins, Jim Beachill (Finance accountant), Paul and Tina Broughton (new operations managers). Steve Middleton said he had not resigned as per Chad report and still supports Stags and has nothing to do with AFC Mansfield.
Questions about ticket prices and why not kids for a quid: only can do three discounts a season and would it be fair for kids paying £80 for a season ticket if others were getting in for a quid a game. One season ticket fan said he didn’t mind the discounts if it got the ground full. John Radford said it was a fine balance. Average £20K gate receipts a game whereas wages are £100K per month. Gateshead game had less than £10K gate receipts so pricing structure needs to be realistic.
Mark Hawkins said season ticket prices agreed at board meeting by all. Youngsters are the clubs future, but not fair on £80 season ticket holders if kids for a quid every week. Mark Hawkins still the director responsible for the youth set up and young Jack is still signed on for the Stags youth team. Youth team league games likely to be played at Rainworth, but cup games at Field Mill. Difficult to get youth team opponents to play in the evening, that’s why majority are afternoon kick offs.
New operation managers, Paul and Tina Broughton, are John Radford’s sister and brother-in-law. They have been told by fans about problems with Stewards and will be tightening up on them. They are going to observe them for first game to see at first hand the issues. They realise part-time workers are a problem but have 20 years of management and 12 years of running their own retail business. They said they will also look at the poor gent’s toilet facilities in the upper west stand and look at letting folk use the ones on the middle tier; however stewards would not let the fans use them last season.
Fans that had not renewed their season ticket yet were concerned about their seat being sold to a ‘new’ customer. Paul and Tina Broughton said it shouldn’t be a problem as they had three folk working on it and a massive wall chart with every seat on it. They said that they would also set up a special e-mail address so that fans could directly e-mail any concerns or problems they had with the club during this coming season.
SSA said at the meeting they were really impressed with the pair after meeting with them at a SSA meeting. It was also announced that Paul Broughton’s name would be added, with the SAG’s agreement, as the ground’s safety certificate holder.
It was confirmed that folk had to be at least 65 years old to be classed as an OAP ticket holder. Reserve and youth team games will be still carrying a nominal charge (£2?) for all to cover ground costs.
Playing budget is at least top 3 and John Radford wouldn’t be surprised if not top one. We have budget for a ‘wow’ striker but difficult to find ‘x’ factor signing for the right price and who would fit in with team.
John Radford would not been drawn on his personal favourite team formation, he said it was PC’s job to get the results.
Asked why many family members worked for his companies he replied that he could trust them and they were cheap (laughter all round). Family are important and you need to look after them if you can.
Asked about ‘keyboard warriors’, people grumble about anything, John Radford just wants folk to enjoy the games and want us to start winning from game one. Criticism does not upset John Radford but sometimes it does Carolyn Still. He said he was trying to do his best for the club, he was doing nothing illegal, he was true and honest and had no hidden agenda, he was not cheating, lying or any treachery and any criticism of him was total rubbish.
John Radford had not fallen out with Radio Mansfield 103.2 with their perceived lack of coverage of the Stags and was in fact having lunch with the owner on Friday. Media like bad news and are not interested in good news.
This year’s open day will be on Sunday 5th August from 11am to 4pm. Televised home games can lose the club money. Only get £5K from TV Company but could potentially lose more than this in reduced gate receipts. Luton said they lost £12K on our match with them last season. Clubs can’t refuse the cameras.
So overall a good evening; John Radford did not evade many questions and practically everyone was impressed with how open and honest were his answers.