Chairman Alan Hardy regrets ever buying Notts County on back of relegation

Notts County chairman Alan Hardy admits he now regrets ever buying the club – which his wife told him not to do in the first place.

The Magpies were relegated from the Football League for the first time in the club’s history at the end of the season following a 3-1 defeat by Swindon.

County – who had won only nine league matches over the whole campaign – lost their proud status as the oldest Football League club, having been formed in 1862.

Hardy’s company, Paragon Interiors, went into administration during February this year, but he said last month he was close to selling the club, who owe HM Revenue and Customs £200,000 in unpaid taxes.

A winding-up petition was adjourned by the High Court until June 5 to allow more time for the proposed deal to be completed, as reported talks with a consortium from South Africa and also a London property group continue.

In January 2017, Hardy had saved County from possible extinction when he bought out predecessor Ray Trew, pouring in his own money to stave off relegation and then seeing the Magpies reach the play-offs the following year.

Looking back now, Hardy, 55, revealed it was a business decision he should not have followed through.

“It is 51-49 call and I have to just come down on the side of regretting it. It was the wrong sort of adventure,” Hardy said in an interview with several national newspapers. “It has been a horrendous six months – the worst of my life.

“On paper it has cost me £35million and I have had this conversation with my wife many times. She is not happy – she didn’t want me to buy County in the first place.”

Hardy, though, maintained he was confident the club could beat the odds and stay up before moving forwards.

“I never believed for one minute we were going to get relegated,” he said. “Notts County have been through a lot previously and escaped and there was an inbuilt confidence we would get there in the end. But when you don’t, there is that overriding shock and gasping for breath.

“We felt we could win this league and there is a thin line between League One and League Two, so I was positive we would get to the Championship in four to five years.”

Hardy had to apologise earlier this year after accidentally posting an inappropriate picture of his anatomy on social media.

“My integrity has been battered over the last nine to 12 months. Everyone’s integrity is important to them as a human being,” he said. “I’ve lost some close friends along the way which was hard to come to terms with.

“The fans are understandably desperately sad about relegation and I have taken an absolute ­battering on social media. A lot of it grossly unfair and ­unnecessary, so I have come off Twitter.”

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