Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox will not be allowed to bring in any new players before the transfer window closes on Thursday, a shock club statement announced today.
Cox and his staff have worked tirelessly throughout the window to try to bring in much-needed new firepower up front, but they and supporters have been rocked the club’s bombshell that all money is now to be directed towards fighting an expensive legal battle with former club owners Steve Hymas and Andrew Saunders.
The pair have demanded repayment of almost £1m of directors’ loans in the club which current chairman John Radford claims Stags cannot afford at the moment.
Radford did suggest the cost of defending the action may restrict what the club could spend in the window a couple of weeks ago. But today the club’s official statement said: “Following a recent statement, the club can confirm that its legal expenditure is now set to increase as the club looks set to defend the proceedings recently commenced by former directors Steve Hymas and Andrew Saunders.
“As a consequence, funds which were intended to be used to strengthen the playing squad in this transfer window are now no longer available. The proposed trip pre-season trip to Malta this July has now also been cancelled.”
Manager Cox tried to put on a brave face and said he was glad he and the fans now knew exactly what the situation was.
“I think it’s clear now with what has transpired and we have got it out to the public,” he said.
“I am a little frustrated, but at least now I have got a clear mind, the club has a clear mind and the supporters have a clear mind. We just need to get on with it. It’s as simple as that. No one is coming in, not even on frees.
“There may still be a few going out. It is a business and we are going to have to cut our cloth accordingly.
“I enjoy working when I know what I have got to work with. I can now get my head round it and refocus. It is black and white, there are no grey areas.
“”I won’t retract what I said and it would have been nice to bring in a couple of fresh faces into the squad.
“Everyone looking our our stats table can see it’s goalscoring we are struggling with.
“I have worked extremely hard and a couple of players we have been in talks with went out on loan and scored goals at the weekend.
“But in the end it is all about the football club. I am working for the football club and as far as I am concerned I will just get on with it.
“As long as we all know where we are going we can start to plan and accept things.”
Asked if the transfer ban included the forthcoming loan window too, he added: “That’s what came across.
“But the lads are in a positive frame of mind right now. I believe we are good enough to stay up.
“Football is all about opinions. But we have only lost one in the last six and that is to the side who are top and I believe will get promoted.
“We have been to some tough places recently and done well. It looks like we have come out of that dip we began in October/November and the lads have started to believe in themselves again and we have became a more cohesive unit.
“Also, some of the youth team have been doing extremely well and some have been training with the first team. It may be that their introduction will be speeded up by this situation.”
Another worry for Cox is that his top scorer, Sam Clucas, is said to be a target for a Championship club, but he said: “I have not had a phone call about Sam so he remains a Mansfield player.”
Stags, without a home win in 11 outings, are due to face fellow strugglers Bury at One Call Stadium tomorrow if the weather doesn’t intervene.
The pitch is already wet and cut up from Saturday and more rain is forecast.
“You can tell the pitch is heavy with water. It is dry this afternoon but it will all depend on the weather tomorrow,” said Cox.
“All credit on Saturday to the referee and officials for managing the game in such horrendous conditions. Some might have called it off.”
On the opposition, he added: “Bury have just signed a lot of players. There has been a lot of investment into the football club.
“On Saturday they dropped to third bottom and so are looking to spend a lot of money to make sure they are a League Two club next year.
“They also have a new managers with new ideas and it will be another tough game for us.”