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Mansfield Town to be named after Sky Dream Team Harchester United under John Batchelor?

UNCONVENTIONAL would-be Stags owner John Batchelor plans to rename Mansfield Town as Harchester Utd - the fictional team featured in hit Sky TV series Dream Team.

That is one of his many wacky ideas to raise the club's profile and sponsorship, Chad was told this morning via a leaked e-mail.

However, on Friday afternoon the Football League appeared to pour cold water on his plan, telling Chad: "The club's membership of the Football League is in the name of Mansfield Town and this cannot be changed without the League's approval."

League would block renaming

It is also believed that the League is unahppy at the idea and would be likely to veto any proposal to change the club's name. But the Conference says that clubs in its competition have changed names before.

Mr Batchelor - a 'massive Burnley fan' - also wants to set up an 'Anglo-European Cup' tournament in the summer involving Red Star Belgrade, Partisan Belgrade and local rivals Chesterfield.

To listen to an interview on Radio 1 on Friday lunchtime, click on the green play icon

Or to listen to a full interview on 103.2 by the Mansfield radio station's Tony Delahunty, click here

Chad - the first media to break the news of the Dream Team idea for Mansfield Town - understands that he has approached the production company which owns the rights to the programme.

It is thought that actors from the hit Sky TV show would be asked to go to Field Mill as part of any sponsorship deal - together with various other ideas to link the soap opera to the Stags. That might have included the characters names feasturing on the Stags shirts on the pitch.

And Mr Batchelor would also like some of the actors/players to feature for the Stags, at least in summer pre-season friendlies, including Harchester's star player Karl Fletcher - actor Terry Kiely.

A spokesman for the production company told Chad on Friday lunchtime: "None of this has as yet been cleared with any of the rights holders in Dream Team and Harchester United. I haven't spoken to Sky, but their permission and our's would have to be forthcoming."

Mr Batchelor - still waiting to hear if his late bid for Mansfield Town FC has been successful after a dramatic two days behind the scenes at Field Mill - told Chad on Friday morning that the Dream Team link made commercial sense.

He told Chad: "Do we want professional football in Mansfield or not?

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"Speculation as to how we could do it is rife.

"I can't confirm or deny anything, but this can only be a positive for the club.

"Harchester is a virtual club - Mansfield as a town and club would benefit from that name.

"Fans have to accept that to have a professional club, it has to be done on a commercial basis and be profitable - Harchester is easier to promote than Mansfield. It is as simple as that.

"This would help to make Mansfield more attractive to national concerns, rather than local business. This would help me.

"I don't mind if the fans don't like it or call me mad. I have been called worse and I am not in this to be popular to everyone - I tried that at York and it did not work."

Mr Batchelor - who took York City into administration a few years ago - has made it clear on Chad.co.uk over the past two days that he is only interested in the Stags to make money . . . and would have no qualms about putting the club into administration as a last resort if it became a failing business.

Dream Team ran on Sky 1 for 10 years, and followed the fortunes of fictional team Harchester United - set in the Midlands - and its star player Carl Fletcher.

The actor, Terry Kiely who played Carl, featured in the hit film Mike Bassett: England Manager and also featured in Sky's The Match - which pitted professionals against players in a one-off match at St James' Park.

Dream Team also has a web-based fans group with more than 20,000 people signed up - which Mr Batchelor says could be used to boost the Stags low attendance figures.

The soap-style programme ended in 2007 after falling viewing figures. At one time a storyline featured the club being demoted for financial irregularitiesd and corruption.

The rights to its franchise are now held by a film company; though it is thought that Sky would also have a say on any future use of the brand.

As Chad has already reported, Mr Batchelor has many unconventional ideas to raise the profile of the club to attract sponsorship.

Another includes a pre-season tournament featuring Partizan Belgrade and Red Star Belgrade at Field Mill, together with a second local club - possibly Chesterfield.

Mr Batchelor says he has often worked in Serbia, has contacts with Red Star and could make the tournament happen this summer.

He told Chad: ""It would be great to have an Anglo-European Cup in pre-season and Chesterfield would be my first choice as the other English team involved.

"There could be two semi-finals and then a final played at Mansfield.

"Why can't we bring Europe to Field Mill. It would fill the ground."

While at York he changed the name of the club to a Soccer Club to appeal to American investors and merged with his motor racing team - and while running his motorsport team he twice changed his name by deed poll to John B&Q and John Top-Gear to attract funding.

On Friday morning Chad asked the Football League about the plans of Mr Batchelor to buy the Stags and whether his past history at York City - where he took the Minstermen into administration - could affect any deal.

A spokesman said that its fit and proper persons test would not proclude Mr Batchelor from owning the Stags - he would only be affected if he had been involved in two clubs going into administration.

Angry fans have already started to bombard websites in protest at the news, sending their views of protest to the official site of the programme harchester.net

The club has undergone a name change once before - from Mansfield Wesleyans to Mansfield Town in 1910 . . . and the news is sure to anger fans.

Andy Saunders, local businessman and joint chairman of the Stags Supporters Association, said: "A lot of fans would be concerned at Mr Batchelor's involvement in the club. I personally would not be happy." In a statement on Friday evening the SSA condemned the news.

Late on Friday afternoon, after a meeting between chief executive Stephen Booth and non executive chairman James Derry, it was announced that Mr Derry had resigned.

He said his position had become untenable after the collapse, for the third time in recent weeks, of his consortium's bid to buy the club.

Derry resigns from Stags after takeover collapse

That consortium had included Mr Batchelor for a short time and in the same club statement Mr Booth - brought to the club to broker a sale - confirmed that he had been in talks with the flamboyant businessman - as Chad revealed earlier in the week.

Mr Batchelor, after spending the last 24 hours answering questions from fans via Chad.co.uk, also issued a statement about his motives for wanting to buy the Stags:

"Let's be clear, I want a football club, preferably one in the league. The ONLY reason that I want it is to make money, the only reason that I want to do that is to look after my immediate family.

"I can only do that by making it work on the pitch and as a result making it work commercially. This would be MY club, if you like what you see come and watch, if you don't, then stay away.

"I am not even interested in discussing it with "fans", however, I will talk to customers anytime. If Mansfield is going to host professional football, it has to accept that there need to be some HUGE changes at this club.

"If the fans don't want to host it, all they need to do is not turn up. I have a plan, and I have a vision of what football needs to do, I am going to do my best to achieve it, I am not a multi-millionaire, just a guy who has some idea's who is prepared to have a go and take a risk"

The emergence of John Batchelor is one of the main topics of this week's Stags Talk. Click here to listen now.

 
 
 

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