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30th March 2024 19:08

Mansfield Town owner John Radford: My dream is the Championship... Carolyn's is the Premier League!
John Radford bought Mansfield with the club languishing in non-league football
Now with wife Carolyn the pair are bidding to take the club into the third tier

dailymail.co.uk, By ROSS HEPPENSTALL, 25 March 2024

When local businessman John Radford bought Mansfield Town for £1 in September 2010, he celebrated with a 4-0 home win over Eastbourne Borough.

Just 2,312 fans turned up. The Stags were languishing in the Conference then.

Fourteen years, some serious investment and three sons later, the chairman and his glamorous wife Carolyn are bidding to take Mansfield into the third tier.


Nigel Clough’s team are top of League Two and Saturday’s game against struggling Colchester, which drew a 7,517 crowd, saw the Nottinghamshire club showcased to a live Sky Sports audience.

There was a buzz around the town, in the stands and certainly in the directors’ lounge where the Algarve-based Radfords took centre stage.

‘Of course we’d love to be in League One,’ 58-year-old John tells Mail Sport. ‘We’ve got a good manager in Nigel, a good team and there’s a real sense of community behind the club.

‘When we took over, we had no training facilities but we’ve now got a category three training ground, which will hopefully become category two.

‘I feel that, if we got promoted, we could compete in League One. Don’t you, darling?’

Carolyn, the Stags’ chief executive, agrees: ‘I don’t think we’ll have to tweak the team too much if we go up.

‘Yes, we live in Portugal but you don’t need to tell Nigel how to do his job and we’ve got really strong people in key positions here. We’ve been motivating people from a distance for quite a long time now.’

The Radfords, whose sons Hugo, Albert and Rupert attend school in England, hasten to add that they are not getting ahead of themselves.

For here were two points dropped on a day when promotion rivals Stockport and Wrexham both won. Nevertheless, Mansfield are on the up and have been for some time.

Radford, who owns One Call Insurance, estimates his investment in his hometown club at somewhere between £10-20million.

Carolyn, 41, adds: ‘We’ve purchased the stadium and training ground. Sometimes when owners are disconnected from their football club, people don’t know whether they care or not. We absolutely care.’

Mansfield’s traditional mining industry is a thing of the past and numerous town-centre shops are derelict. But as in so many English towns and cities, when their football club prospers, the spirits of an entire community are lifted. Stags supporter Christopher Bartlett, 21, says: ‘A lot of younger fans are coming to games now. Many families around here were miners and that’s gone, but seeing the football club thriving again makes people happy.

‘There are people who sit in front of me who have been going for over half a century.

‘It’s taken three years, but we’ve now got one of the best squads in League Two.’

The One Call Stadium boasts three neat, modern stands - although the Bishop Street side of the ground has been empty since the stand was condemned in 2006. It remains an eyesore, but 16-year-old fan Brendan Whitehead says: ‘The Radfords have done a lot for Mansfield.

‘I’m just about old enough to remember us getting promoted back into the Football League in 2013.

‘We had a fans forum last week with Nigel Clough and he was honest with us. We trust him.’

Alan Rudkin follows Mansfield home and away and the 76-year-old is praying they can reach the third tier for the first time since 2002-03.

‘Two years ago, Nigel got us to the League Two play-off final at Wembley and we bottled it really, losing 3-0 to Port Vale,’ he recalls. ‘Last year we missed out on the play-offs by one goal, but I think this could be our time.’

Harry Anderson put Colchester ahead at the break before Lewis Brunt scrambled in a 63rd-minute equaliser.

The Stags, who have scored the most goals and conceded the fewest in League Two this season, travel to Wrexham on Good Friday in a huge game.

John Radford says: ‘My dream is to reach the Championship and Carolyn’s is to be in the Premier League.

‘It wasn’t so long ago we were playing Luton Town in this division and look at them now. In football you have to have dreams.’



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