Interview: Carolyn Radford, Mansfield Town FC

With the 2017/18 football pre-season now in full swing, we spoke to Mansfield Town Football Club CEO, Carolyn Radford, on her plans for next season, and whether it’s becoming any easier to be a female in a male-dominated sport and industry.

How are pre-season preparations going for the Stags?
We have enjoyed an excellent pre-season to date. Our new-look squad recently returned from a hugely beneficial one-week trip to Malta, which helped our new players integrate with the squad, enjoy several high-tempo training sessions and meet with hundreds of supporters who travelled to the Mediterranean to back us. Moreover, the squad was split into two teams in each half for a match against a Malta FA XI, which we won 5-0. The feedback from our new players regarding the trip was superb, with many stating it was the most worthwhile pre-season trip they had been a part of. While little can be determined from a pre-season, there is no doubt that we have some very talented players in our squad, and management and staff that are absolutely determined to bring success to the club in 2017-18.

You bought a lot of players early in the close-season – what was the thinking behind this?
Since John [chairman John Radford] and I took over the Stags, we have progressed year upon year. After the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, we held several very thorough recruitment meetings with our manager, Steve Evans. Eleven players were released, and to date, 13 have been added to the squad. Our priority was to bring quality in all areas, targeting a blend of youth and experience. To be the best in any league you must recruit the best players and have fierce competition in each area. We’re really pleased with the squad which has been assembled, whilst knowing that there is much hard work ahead of us.

What are your minimum expectations of the players and the manager next season?
We want to win the title, that is our ultimate aim next season. Reaching the play-offs is our minimum target, but we have a manager who has a track record of delivering promotions and a squad which features players who have enjoyed promotions at various levels. We are capable of automatic promotion and now we embark on a journey to set about delivering those targets.

How do you balance the playing budget with this expectation? Is it promotion at all costs next season?
We endeavour to maximise every penny we spend. During my time at the club, I have increased commercial revenue whilst cutting expenditure. The club broke-even last season, still a rare feat in football. Leading a football club is slightly different to running another organisation as there are so many different facets involved. On a financial level, the bottom line must be to ensure that the club not only survives, but prospers.

Who do you consider your main rivals in League Two next season?
Chesterfield are our biggest rivals. It is one of the most keenly-fought rivalries in the lower leagues and the rivalry was sharpened during the Miners’ Strike in the 1980s. Notts County run a close second, and we’re also looking forward to playing Lincoln City after an excellent campaign last term.

Do you think there’s still a stigma attached to women in football?
There are still so few women in top positions in professional football, so there is surely some sort of stigma in the game. I’d like to change that by example and show young women that you can achieve your goals, whether you’re in a male-dominated arena or not. Nothing is impossible.

What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned since being at Mansfield Town?
The most important business lesson I’ve learned is that some people want it to happen, some think it can happen, and others make it happen. I consider myself to be in the latter group. Nothing can be accomplished without clear focus and determined action, and of course, making things happen by never giving up.