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Notts County Ladies: WSL 1 club fold on eve of Spring Series season

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Meadow Lane

English top-flight club Notts County Ladies have folded, two days before their first match of the Spring Series.

Due to face Arsenal on Sunday, Notts’ players were told the Women’s Super League One club cannot stay afloat 15 minutes before Friday’s announcement.

Previously known as Lincoln Ladies before relocating in 2014, the squad included England’s Carly Telford, Laura Bassett, Jade Moore and Jo Potter.

Notts finished sixth in WSL 1 in 2016 after reaching the 2015 FA Cup final.

In March, a winding-up petition against the club was adjourned for a second time, giving Notts until 3 July to pay debts owed to HM Revenue and Customs.

Local businessman Alan Hardy purchased Notts County’s men’s and women’s clubs in December, aiming to clear debts owed to HMRC by both outfits.

A club statement said: “Alan Hardy has reluctantly admitted defeat in his bid to save Notts County Ladies Football Club after facing a near-£1m bill to keep the club afloat this season.

“The Notts County chairman and owner had hoped to restructure six-figure HMRC debts inherited from Ray Trew and fund ongoing projected losses this season of half a million pounds.

“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“The club has today been officially withdrawn from the Women’s Super League and will play no matches in the Spring Series, including this Sunday’s away fixture at Arsenal.”

‘Jobless and homeless’

Reacting to the news, Notts and England goalkeeper Telford posted on Twitter: “CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I HAVE JUST WITNESSED!!! NOTTS COUNTY LADIES NO LONGER EXISTS!!!”

Midfielder Danielle Buet added: “Thanks @Official_NCFC left jobless and homeless.”

With the WSL transfer window having closed, it is not yet clear if any of the Notts squad will be able to sign for another English top-flight club this season.

Analysis

David Jackson, BBC Radio Nottingham

All the noises from Alan Hardy had suggested that the tax bill would be paid and that Notts County Ladies would be able to continue, so this news comes out of the blue.

He had even spoken about creating an academy for girls from across the county.

I was at Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup final against Chelsea in 2015 when it seemed like the club was on the way up. Even now, four of the current squad are in the England set-up.

They’ve only been in existence – since moving from Lincoln – for three years and this is a loss for Nottingham as well as for women’s football.

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