Notts County are embarking on their first season of football outside of the Football League in their 157-year history as a club. The Magpies were relegated from League Two last season finishing 23rd. While football on the pitch was difficult to bear, the situations of the pitch look similarly bleak. Many fans are excited for real football to return in August when the non-league season kicks off and supporters can wager on their favourite teams. Can Notts County fight for automatic promotion and a National League title?
Notts County owner Alan Hardy put the club up for sale last winter but issues have continued to plague the club in the boardroom since then. With the non-league season ready to kick off in August Notts County may be doomed for more mediocrity on the pitch due to situations off it.
Notts County owes HMRC £800,000. In modern football terms, it seems like a bill that should be easily paid. Yet, for a club now playing in non-league, it is crippling debt. The Magpies have had three winding-up petitions adjourned already and will once again be in court on July 31st.
Hardy faces financial issues of his own as his once thriving businesses are no longer quite so lucrative. Hardy’s non-football companies seem to be reflecting his club these days.
The under-pressure owner believes a takeover could take place anytime. If it does, the new owners will be given three weeks to sort out Notts County’s debt. If the debts are not cleared, the world’s oldest professional football club will go into liquidation.
Tensions are at a near breaking point at Meadow Lane. Employees of the club have not received their June wages and fears over not being paid are high. It isn’t just the club’s staff who hasn’t been paid but the players too.
Notts County’s players were expected to be paid this week. However, no payments were received and a heated argument between senior players and Hardy allegedly took place at Meadow Lane.
Players have been told several times that they would be paid on certain days only for no payments to be made. Hardy has stated that the proceeds from designated turnstiles for Saturday’s friendly with Ilkeston will be used to pay staff their June wages.
Unfortunately, July is nearly halfway over and staff will turn their attention to whether or not funds for the month will be paid on time.
What’s the future of Notts County?
Notts County have prospective new owners who have allegedly passed the fit and proper person test to own a football club. A purchase agreement has been written up and a deal could go through. However, Football Radar owners Alexander and Christoffer Reedtz are also interested in buying the club and will meet with football authorities about it soon.
It is difficult to know if and when Notts County will be sold. As far back as February reports indicated a consortium from Australia were “hoping” to purchase the club.
The oldest professional club in football is, unfortunately, a mess. Hopefully, for the fans’ sake and the history of the game, a new owner will be found soon to save the club.