STAGS chairman John Radford has bought Field Mill football ground – bringing the controversial reign of Keith Haslam to an end after 19 years.
In an exclusive interview with Chad, Mr Radford confirmed the deal had been agreed with Mr Haslam over the Christmas period although he did not reveal how much had been paid.
The deal comes on the 1st March deadline for promotion-chasing Conference clubs to show that they either own their own ground or have a 10-year lease in place.
The ground will now be owned by John Radford Stadium Ltd with a clause in place meaning Field Mill cannot be used for anything other than for sporting purposes over the next 20 years.
Mr Radford, who bought the club in September 2010, said: “The ground has been secured for the fans and for the club. It is a tremendous relief that the deal has finally been concluded.
“Keith was worried that I would purchase the ground to sell on for profit, that was never the aim – I am not a developer.
“We have put the 20 year clause in place to get rid of those fears. Field Mill is the home of Mansfield Town and that is the way it will stay.
“We can now work on developing the ground to help with the academy and training facilities and improve what we can offer commercially.
“Having the future of the ground resolved will ease the pressure on the club. It means we can focus solely on getting the team promoted and driving the club forward.
“The team is coming together well. It is nice to know that I have got some longevity in Paul Cox.
“He will be a good manager for us over the next few years. He is putting together a good team, teams become good teams over time and that is what is happening here.”
Mr Radford, who vowed to buy the stadium and give it back to the fans when he took over at the helm, has also called on stay-away fans to now get behind Mansfield Town in big numbers.
“Keith Haslam is no longer associated with the club and I hope people that stayed away because of his connection will come back,” he said.
“It is vital that the fans get behind us now. If we get back into the Football League it will give the club a big lift and people in the town a big boost.”
The ground purchase finally brings an end to the long-running sage over the future of Field Mill and brings to an end the threat of legal action over the ground’s ownership.
When the club withheld rent they were suddenly locked out of the ground in December 2010, before a truce was called just before that Christmas.
The disputed ownership of Field Mill and the legal battle went to court in February last year.
In a quick hearing at Mansfield County Court, the case was adjourned to Birmingham. Crucially, the two parties agreed a scenario that prevented any possible future lockouts - and brought a degree of stability off the field.
The agreement has seen the Stags pay £120,000 per season into a joint account in the names of the club and Mr Haslam’s solicitors - with the money not being released until ordered by the court or until the two parties reached agreement. Haslam also agreed not to prevent the club staying at Field Mill while the dispute was resolved.
The club revealed a ‘Plan B’ late last year and started work on the possibility of playing matches at Rainworth Welfare should they get promoted and not be able to play at Field Mill.
To listen to an interview with John Radford click here