Notts County chairman Alan Hardy responds to Forest Green criticism for handling of Liam Noble transfer saga

Notts County chairman Alan Hardy has responded to criticism from Forest Green Rovers over his handling of the Magpies’ interest in resigning midfielder Liam Noble.

Noble spent two seasons at Meadow Lane but was released in June 2016 and joined Forest Green on a two-year deal.

And the Magpies have been interested in bringing the player back to Meadow Lane from their League Two rivals.

Noble scored seven goals in 40 appearances last season, helping Rovers win promotion from the National League via the play-offs.

Notts reportedly lodged a £100,000 bid for the Forest Green skipper which was turned down and Magpies owner Hardy took to the local press on Thursday (July 6) to publicly update the fans on the situation.

In a newspaper article, Hardy said the club registered ‘several bids’ for the player since the beginning of July and claimed Forest Green wanted £100,000 for the player.

Hardy claimed Notts matched Forest Green’s price tag and offered £100k up front – which was turned down.

He added the whole transfer saga had been “a huge waste of time” and the player is “not available at any price” and boss Kevin Nolan will turn his attention to signing other players.

And Dale Vince has issued a statement criticising how Notts have handled their interest in the player.

Vince issued a statement on the Forest Green website on Friday (July 7) which read: “We’ve watched with an increasing sense of bewilderment as Notts County have released a series of press statements about their interest in our player.

“It’s one thing to engage in such megaphone diplomacy, and quite another to put false stories in the press.

“We have received a series of bids for Liam, the first we considered to be a joke.  Their latest ‘final’ bid we received was not for £100k as their owner claimed in the press yesterday.

“Equally, the claim made yesterday about us suggesting they could double that amount and still not get him is completely false.

“We’ve been very clear from the outset that we did not want to sell Liam and the antics of Notts County since then have only firmed up that position.

“Liam Noble – captain of our play-off winning side – is not for sale.  We want Notts County to stop what they are doing, including the behind-the-scenes contact with the player, which we consider to be a breach of FA rules.

“Forest Green Rovers may be the newest and smallest member of the Football League family, but we know how to conduct ourselves and how to undertake a transfer negotiation the right way – quietly and respectfully club to club.”

And Magpies chairman Hardy, in response, released a statement which read: “I feel compelled to set the record straight regarding a number of comments made by Dale Vince, chairman of Forest Green Rovers.

“Firstly, in respect of his claim that we have released a number of press statements about their player, we put them to proof on this matter. The only statements made by the club have been those attributed to me or Kevin Nolan over the past 48 hours.

“I can confirm that a number of bids have been made by the club, and that the final bid was for a transfer fee of £100,000 payable immediately. Why Dale Vince would deny this when it is fact baffles me.

“Furthermore, our football operations director Jason Turner, who has been handling this matter in the strictest of confidence, was told by James Mooney of Forest Green Rovers when the final bid was rejected that they would not sell him to us for double the price.

“Dale Vince also claims they have been very clear from the outset that they did not want to sell Liam.

“While this may be the case, they have also been very clear from the outset that an offer of £100,000 guaranteed would be acceptable. It was only when this bid was lodged that they changed their minds.

“I am more than comfortable that we have negotiated with Forest Green Rovers in a professional and diligent manner but we now move on and look forward to welcoming them to Meadow Lane in October.”