Players were told the club cannot afford to exist with six-figure tax debts, leaving them ‘jobless and homeless’
NOTTS COUNTY ladies team have folded just two days before the first match of the Spring Series competition – leaving four England stars without a club.
Women’s Super League One side County were due to face Arsenal on Sunday, but the players were told the cannot afford to stay afloat, with six-figure tax debts.
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The squad included England players Carly Telford, Laura Bassett, Jade Moore and Jo Potter, finishing sixth last season – having reached the 2015 FA Cup final where they lost to Chelsea.
A second winding-up petition was adjourned in March giving Notts until 3 July to pay debts owed to HM Revenue and Customs – the women’s side having been Lincoln Ladies until 2014.
New owner Alan Hardy, who bought the men’s and women’s teams in December, tried to clear debts across the board, but has admitted defeat in the ladies’ team.
A club statement read: “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 Football Association, 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“The club has today been officially withdrawn from the Women’s Super League and will play no matches in the Spring Series, including this Sunday’s away fixture at Arsenal.”
Hardy said today: “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.
“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.”
But the players reacted furiously to the news, England keeper Telford tweeting: “CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I HAVE JUST WITNESSED!!! NOTTS COUNTY LADIES NO LONGER EXISTS!!!”
Midfielder Danielle Buet added: “Thanks @Official_NCFC left jobless and homeless.”
An FA spokesman 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.”
As the WSL transfer window has closed, it is not yet clear if any of the Notts squad will be able to sign for another English top-tier club this season.
The Spring Series is a one-off competition bridging the gap in between the two league seasons, and 19 teams now remain after Notts folded.
The 2016 FA WSL season ran from March to September as a summer tournament, and the 2017–18 season which is planned to start in September 2017 and end in May 2018 as a winter tournament, hence the large wait in between.