FAWSL1 side Notts County Ladies have folded just two days before the start of the 2017 Spring Series. The Meadow Lane club were due to open their season with a trip to Arsenal Ladies but that match has now been cancelled, following their withdrawal from the league. As yet, the FAWSL itself have not commented on how they will deal with this gap, but it seems inevitable that the Spring Series will be played one team short, with a question mark over what will happen when the FAWSL1 season kicks off in late summer for the new 2017-18 Season standard winter-based schedule.
The future of Notts County Ladies had been up in the air since the latter days of Ray Trew's ownership of both men's and ladies sides at Meadow Lane. Winding up orders against both football clubs were submitted by HMRC (aka the Taxman) and although the men's club's debts now seem to be being managed under the new ownership of Alan Hardy, the Ladies' courtroom session merely sought to adjourn the court action.
Today, Notts County have issued a statement saying it is their intention to close down the Ladies operations. They indicate that there had been six figure tax debts inherited from Ray Trew's time in charge, and that added to the costs of running their Ladies operation for the 2017 Spring Series and beyond meant that they were needing to raise close to £1 million to keep the club going during the calendar year.
It appears that Notts County had two offers from Premier League clubs to franchise the business out to them, but the Football Association rejected the transfer of licence and so the club have decided to cease operations. Owner Alan Hardy explained some of the finances behind the decision-making:
"“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."
Hardy said that he had looked into restructuring the club into a more of an Academy-based operation, including the set-up of a Regional Talent Centre to provide a pathway for female players into their FAWSL set-up. However, his view was that it would have taken more than two years for them to have become accredited, thus creating a funding gap during that time. They do not appear to be planning any alternative measures to ressurect the club in a different form, meaning that the name of Notts County Ladies will disappear entirely.
Yeovil Town Ladies were due to play Notts County Ladies on June 3rd at Fairfax Park, Bridgwater as the final match of the 2017 Spring Series. Unless something unexpected happens, this game will now be cancelled.
The Glovers Ladies side will be in action on Sunday at Huish Park, against Liverpool Ladies. A reminder that they have got a new pricing structure in place for this season. We'd therefore recommend that you purchase your tickets online for these fixtures, if at all possible. Follow the links below.
Link: 2017 FAWSL1 Spring Series Fixture List.
Link: Ticketing For Ladies vs Liverpool And Spring Series Matches.
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