With just five League games remaining Notts County may be relegated from the Football League. For the first time in their 157 year history.
If the oldest professional football club in the world lose their professional status, it will be a terrible tragedy for the football community.
I’m a Nottingham Forest fan but my late grandfather was a Notts County fan. As his older years ate away at him, heart-achingly, he became to frail and weak to hold himself up. His atrophied body, an inevitable product of his own being, reminded me of my own mortality.
Sadly the club he supported now find themselves in a similar position. County are a shadow of their former selves. Slowly withering away, unable to support their own weight.
The recent winding up order has, at least for now, been postponed until their sale goes through. Current owner Alan Hardy has confirmed April’s wages have already been covered and that the debt owed will be paid, in full, to HMRC.
The new owners, still a mystery to those outside the club, are, according to Hardy, a “very credible party” and “have Notts County’s best interests at heart”.
Although this isn’t quite Munto Finance it sure feels familiar to County fans. False promises, intentional or not, have been delivered time and time again to the Magpies supporters.
The ability to acquire a football club, particularly in dire circumstances, is all too easy for someone with enough financial backing. As Hardy admitted last month, he was seduced by the dream of owning the club he supports.
At the time of his purchase, the club were subject to a winding up order, yet he promised an ambitious plan to guide the club towards the Championship.
Hardy had the best interests in the club, saving them from yet another extinction event, but ultimately his ownership has ended as it began.
The new owners, when they do arrive, must be more realistic in their ambitions. Particularly if County do lose their Football League status.
The National League is tough to get out of. Just look at Torquay United’s slip into the National League South. Switching from full-time to part-time is not as easy as it may seem. It requires good management, experience and most importantly planning.
Hopefully the world’s oldest professional club can survive, at least for another year, as a professional Football League Club.
Notts’ next five fixtures are away to Crewe, then a home tie with promotion chasing Milton Keynes, a trip to fellow strugglers Crawley, their last home match against Grimsby and their final game of the season at Swindon.