Former Mansfield Town directors Steve Hymas and Andy Saunders have hit back at claims by Stags chairman John Radford that the club is not in a position to repay their loans totalling almost £1m.
The pair have said they are more than willing to negotiate and say that any potential financial damage to the club that Radford has said it faces due to their legal action would be down purely to him not negotiating with them for a better solution.
They claim the loans they put into the club during their time in charge are now repayable due to new funds the club received from promotion back into the Football League this summer.
Hymas and Saunders this afternoon issued a statement in response to the one issued by the club this morning, stating: “We refute the claims made in the MTFC statement.
“We have in fact refrained from taking legal action for some six months while trying to negotiate an arrangement with Mr Radford for repayment of the loans, which became repayable once the club gained promotion and found themselves in better financial circumstances as indeed they are now, benefiting from the funds from the Football League.
“As lifelong fans of the club we have never sought to damage it in any way, and in truth we have only ever supported it spiritually and financially, eventually becoming its involuntary bankers.
Mr Radford has disadvantaged us by selling and transferring our shares out of Yellows 08 into Amber 12.
“He has further sought only to delay repayment of any part of the loans, in spite of holding private meetings with us with the express purpose of trying to come to a repayment arrangement.
“We have never wanted to involve the club in any protracted and costly legal proceedings, but have no option but to do so due to Mr Radford’s intransigence.
“The tone of the club’s press release clearly indicates a preference for litigation over negotiation, and the laboured expression of potential damage to club finances in the statement lays entirely at the feet of Mr Radford and those members of the board supporting his stance.
“The club, for whatever reason, is planning to spend a substantial amount on legal fees that could form part of a repayment deal, and stop any legal proceedings.
“There is no claim for the club to defend robustly, the figures are a matter of record, and are clearly shown in the club’s own audited accounts.”
It went on: “We believe the threat to the club’s finances referred to in the statement is disingenuous and unnecessary as we have never previously demanded a full repayment other than by a negotiated arrangement, which could be scheduled in such a way that it would have the minimum impact on the club’s finances and its ability to move forward.
“This of course requires a meeting of all parties, which we are willing to attend, and a firm commitment by the club to come to an agreeable reasonable resolution, which will not be unreasonably refused.
“It is most unfortunate that Mr Radford has seen fit to risk the club’s finances by his attempt to avoid dealing with the simple matter of a repayment plan for a liability that is openly admitted by the club.”
Earlier today, the statement from the club had said: “Mansfield Town Football Club is disappointed that two of its former shareholders and directors have commenced legal proceedings against it, seeking to recover £989,441.94.
“The claim arises from monies which Mr Steve Hymas and Mr Andrew Saunders lent to the club during their period of ownership.
“The club does not deny that the loans were made, nor that they remain a liability of the club. “However, as both the club and its lawyers have made clear to Mr Hymas and Mr Saunders, the loans do not have a specific redemption date and are only repayable when both the club and Mr Radford agree that it is in a position to do so.
“Sadly, the club is not in a position to make any such repayment and therefore the monies are not repayable at this time.
“It is disappointing that the actions of Mr Hymas and Mr Saunders will involve further significant legal expenditure by the club in defending the unmeritorious proceedings they have commenced.”
Radford added: “I am still putting money in and we are losing between £60k and £100k a month. We are not in profit.
“This could make a big difference what we can spend on players in January as we will now have to pay out for legal fees defending this claim.”