Notts County Ladies fold with immediate effect two days before start of season

Notts County Ladies have folded

Notts County Ladies have folded with immediate effect just two days before the start of the new season.

Owner and chairman Alan Hardy had hoped to restructure six-figure HMRC debts inherited from Ray Trew and fund ongoing projected losses this season of around £500,000.

Notts had been given until July 3 to repay the debts, the second time that a winding up order for the club had been adjourned.

However despite weeks of negotiations with lawyers, HMRC and the FA, Hardy has now called time on his plans to save the Ladies set-up.

The Ladypies have today (Friday April 21) been officially withdrawn from the Women’s Super League and will play no matches in the Spring Series, including this Sunday’s away fixture at Arsenal.

Hardy claims that despite interest from two Premier League sides to take over the business as a going concern and to protect the players and staff, the FA would not sanction the transfer of licence to safeguard the future of the club under a new ownership structure.

The news comes just two days before the Ladypies were due to play away at Arsenal

He said: “I am devastated that we cannot continue the Ladies project but the numbers simply do not stack up; continuing would have been little short of financial suicide.

“I wish to be totally transparent with supporters about the sums of money involved here.

“When I took over the club, HMRC and other creditors had in excess of £350,000 of unpaid liabilities.

“Additionally, I was extremely concerned that to operate Notts County Ladies for the current season was going to cost us approximately £500,000 – a figure principally made up of player and coaching salaries.

“Our total projected incoming revenue from attendances and sponsorship was £28,000.

“I have been tremendously impressed by the passion and enthusiasm shown by everyone connected with the Ladies set-up – manager, players and backroom team.

“They have represented Notts County with dignity, success and the utmost professionalism over the past three seasons.

“But the fact remains we simply cannot fund such a huge operating loss.

“I was also concerned that we had no real pathway for young players in Nottingham to graduate through the ranks into a WSL team.

“The existing structure is such that we have a strong elite-level team, but no academy pathway of progression through age-group teams.

“I met many times with the FA with a view to being granted RTC (Regional Talent Centre) status but realistically it would have taken more than two years to become accredited.

“It’s a very sad day for me personally and supporters should rest assured I have left no stone unturned in my quest to save the club.

“However, having taken all factors into consideration, the only possible outcome is to discontinue our Ladies club.

“I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to the staff and players and we all wish them every success in finding new clubs.”

The FA have issued a statement on the club folding which said: “The FA is aware of the situation and is liaising with all involved parties.

“Our priority is the welfare of the players and we will work closely with them, the PFA and wider stakeholders to support them through this time.”