Hardy puts Notts County up for sale after weekend to forget

Alan Hardy, right

Notts County Football Club’s owner and chairman Alan Hardy has ‘very reluctantly’ put the club up for sale, citing a need to focus on his external business portfolio as the reason for his decision.

At the end of a tumultuous day for Hardy he made a statement on the Club’s website saying: “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.”

On Sunday, Hardy was forced to apologise after mistakenly posting an intimate picture on Twitter. The Guardian is reporting that he may be the subject of an FA investigation because of the image.

Hardy, who also owns interiors and fit-out firm Paragon and the Nottinghamshire Golf Club, has garnered a large following on the social media platform after attempting to use it to communicate with fans.

He has repeatedly come under fire this season, however, as the Magpies have struggled for form. The club, who are on their third permanent manager of the season, currently lie bottom of League Two and are now eight points from safety and in danger of losing their league status. They face a crunch derby match with top-of-the-table Lincoln City at the weekend.

In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, Hardy said: “This morning an inappropriate photo appeared in one of my tweets. This was clearly an honest mistake as a result of my camera roll being included in a screenshot. I tried to rectify the error by deleting the tweet as soon as I noticed and I apologise for any offence caused.”

Twenty minutes later he followed this up with the following message in a series of tweets, saying: “Thank you to everyone who continues to support me through what has been a very difficult time. Later this evening I will be deleting my account as I feel this is in the best interests of the football club, my family and myself.”

Hardy’s statement on the Club’s website continued: “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.

“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.

“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 bought Notts County from Ray Trew in early 2017 when the club was in the League Two relegation spots. He appointed former Premier League player Kevin Nolan as manager and saw the Magpies to safety. Last season, Notts County made the play-off semi-finals, but this season has seen a merry-go-round of staff, players and management, with the Magpies’ status as ‘The World’s Oldest Football League Club’ now seriously under threat.