Notts County owner/chairman Alan Hardy puts Magpies up for sale
Notts County owner and chairman Alan Hardy has put the struggling League Two outfit up for sale.
Hardy, who is also owner and chairman of Ilkeston Town FC, has seen the Magpies drop to the bottom of the Football League this season and they are currently eight points adrift of safety in League Two having nearly been promoted during the last campaign.
And he has now 'very reluctantly' taken the step of looking for a buyer.
In a statement, Hardy, who had also attracted media attention over the weekend after inadvertently publishing a photograph on Twitter which included 'inappropriate content', said: "After considerable soul-searching, I no longer feel I can continue as the owner of Notts County Football Club.
“I would like to make it clear from the outset that the club’s current league position is not a factor in this decision, nor are any of the events which have unfolded in the media this weekend.
“Everyone at Meadow Lane remains staunchly committed to preserving our proud status as the world’s oldest Football League club and, until a new buyer is found, I will continue to support that aim.
"The truth is, my efforts to restore Notts County’s fortunes over the last two years mean my other businesses have had to take a back seat. They are now in need of my full attention.
"My decision to sell the club does not mean I won’t be supporting our manager, Neal Ardley, in his efforts to strengthen our squad in this transfer window.
"I am not suddenly pulling up the drawbridge, nor will I be absent from matches. I continue to support this club.
"We have 17 games remaining to fight tooth and nail to save our EFL status.
"Moving forward, I am sad to say the time has come for me to pass on the baton to the next owner of Notts County.
“But I would like to reassure supporters that I will be doing my utmost to ensure this huge honour is bestowed upon someone who has the best interests of the club at heart.
"I have already held talks with two interested parties and I will keep fans informed of any future developments when appropriate.”
Hardy defended his time in charge, highlighting the success of last season and the rise in crowds at Meadow Lane.
He said: "Looking back, as a Nottingham-born man, I take huge pride in being able to say I took on the challenge of owning the world's oldest Football League club at a time when its only alternative fate, according to my predecessor, was extinction. The football-related creditors had to be paid up immediately, otherwise Notts County would have ceased to exist.
“The club was virtually down and out with huge debts, a dwindling, disengaged supporter base and staff morale at an all-time low, while suffering the worst run of consecutive defeats in its history.
"Over the following 15 months we had a truly wonderful journey.
“Initially the challenge was to avoid relegation, which we were able to achieve, and last season we qualified for the play-offs, only to lose out against Coventry in highly questionable circumstances.
"During that time we were able to double attendances, re-engage supporters and attract crowds of up to 17,000 for League Two fixtures.
"Clearly, however, this season has been an incredibly difficult challenge and one of monumental under-achievement, which has left us once again fighting for EFL survival.
"As the owner, the buck stops with me. I take ultimate responsibility for our current situation.
"But it cannot be said that our poor performance is due to a lack of investment, as is so often the case in business.
"We are currently engaged in a relegation fight alongside clubs who have one-third of the playing budget we have allocated this season.
"I have backed every manager with generous wage and transfer budgets and invested heavily in our academy, girls and ladies divisions, facilities and infrastructure.
"I readily accept there are no guarantees in football but to find ourselves at the foot of the League Two table is an incredibly bitter pill to swallow."