Why Nobody wants to buy Notts County FC

Notts County FC was put up for sale last month by owner Alan Hardy and have yet to find a buyer for the Nottinghamshire based side.

Notts currently sit rock bottom of the football league with only 13 games to go and are 2 points from safety. To add to the Magpies misery off the field issues have plagued Notts this season with owner Alan Hardy putting the club up for sale hours after the Notts owner shared a revealing picture on his Twitter account. Hardy however in a statement said that “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.” Nearly a month after Hardy put the club up for sale no buyer has been found. So why is nobody interested in buying the oldest Football League club?

Although County finds them self in a predicament on the field with relegation looming large this season. For a new investor, there is mass potential for growth. For example, Notts currently play at Meadow Lane the second highest capacity stadium in League 2. For a new investor, this is great news! To take over a club with adequate facilities and huge capacity it means if a new owner comes in there is potential for growth of fan base without the owner having to invest in building a new stadium or increasing capacity. However, there are some implications with the ground that we will discuss later in the article.

Another enticing prospect for a potential new owner is the fact that Notts County is the oldest Football League club with the club being founded in 1862. Notts also was one of the original 12 founding members of the football league in 1888. This would surely entice any interesting party right? To say that you own the oldest football league club. Any investor would jump on the opportunity just for the marketing value alone of being the oldest Football League club.

The Magpies fanbase would also be an attractive prospect for a potential owner with the club languishing in bottom place you would expect low attendances. However, this isn’t the case with Country having the second highest average attendance for home games this season. Notts current average is 7275 per game and is only behind the top of the table Lincoln City for average attendance. With the second highest average attendance in league 2 and the potential for an increase in more fans to attend games, the fanbase is there for a potential owner to be able to create revenue from.

Looking at a glance why wouldn’t an investor buy Notts County. Notts have the second biggest ground in League 2, history and a strong fan base to build from. However, if you look deep into Notts County’s current finances a truly horrific demon appears.

Notts County is reportedly losing £35,000 per week! A ludicrous amount of money at any level to be losing per week. Hardy has also stated that the club is forecasted to lose £3 million pounds for this season. These figures are made even worse if the Magpies were to be relegated with a loss of around £450,000 in the first year of playing in the National League due to a loss of TV rights. The more you delve into County’s financial reports it because clear why an investor wouldn’t invest his money into the oldest Football League Club.

The heavy investment into the first team has also made Notts an unattractive proposition for a potential investor with the Nottinghamshire based side currently having 36 players contracted to the squad. Notts have overspent this season on players with owner Alan Hardy saying that the club had overspent by £500,000 on players alone. Notts also boasts one of the highest wage bills in league 2. It is clear to see why an investor would be sceptical in investing their money into Notts County. The new owner would have to shift a number of players on to try and balance the books and with quite a few players on longer-term deals, it could take time to fix the overinvestment.

One of the big draws that were alluded to early in the article was about the home ground of Notts County Meadow Lane. One slight problem a new investor might have is that the club doesn’t own the ground. In fact, Notts County pays rent just to play at the ground. Back in 2003, Haydn Green saved Notts County by buying the lease on the ground. Green, unfortunately, passed away in 2007 and his estate was passed on which included the control of the lease to Meadow Lane. The problem a new owner would face with the ground being controlled elsewhere is that the club technically doesn’t have the ground as an asset. The other problem the new owner could face is if for some reason the rent can’t be paid Notts County could effectively lose their home ground and be left stranded. This could have multiple implications for the club and could see them go out of business altogether.

Overall it’s clear to see why after nearly one Month of being up for sale no buyer has yet been found with the underlying debt issues and ground lease issues present at the oldest Football League Club.

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