World’s oldest club relegated for the first time

Notts County, the oldest club in the world, has been relegated.

The 157-year-old club lost 3-1 at Swindow on Saturday, becoming condemned to relegation. Owner and chairman Alan Hardy says he takes ultimate responsibility for the club’s relegation from the Football League and says he hopes to sell the club in the “near future”.

It has been a dreadful season on and off the pitch, with the club having had three managers in the dugout and using more than 40 players in the campaign.

They also have the worst defensive record in League Two in an appalling campaign in which instability has ultimately proven too damaging. In a statement after the relegation to the National League Hardy apologised to the supporters for what has been a shambolic campaign.

“Having headed into this season with every intention of challenging for automatic promotion, to find ourselves in this situation is bitterly disappointing for everyone involved with the club,” he said.

“Once again I have invested heavily in the playing budget this season, fully supporting each manager with new signings, and having had the best interests of this club at heart since my arrival two and a half years ago, I am as distraught as anybody at today’s outcome.

 “But, as owner, I take ultimate responsibility and apologise to our fans, whose support has been unwavering despite the difficulties we’ve faced.

“Staggeringly, we boast the third-highest average attendance in the league – more than 7,000 – while our backing away from home has also been superb.

“Our supporters don’t deserve this and their frustrations are completely understandable.

“I also have huge sympathy for the staff at the club, who have worked incredibly hard all season in extremely testing circumstances. I thank them for their efforts.

“Naturally, questions will now be raised about the club’s immediate future.

“Conversations with prospective new owners are ongoing and I expect a deal to be completed in the near future.

“I truly hope the next custodian of Notts County is able to restore our status as the world’s oldest Football League club at the earliest opportunity.”

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