The Kop at Notts County's Meadow Lane on Saturday. Photo credit: Michael Callander

Notts County and Hartlepool United drew 2-2 on Saturday in the National League, taking Notts to seventh. The hosts are now unbeaten in nine home games.

Wes Thomas scored a brace to pull the Magpies back from 2-0 down in front of 5258 fans at Meadow Lane, after first-half strikes from Gavan Holohan and Luke James put the visitors ahead.

Notts County’s memorial statue to legendary management team Jimmy Sirrel and Jack Wheeler.
Photo credit: Michael Callander

2019 has seen perhaps the most turbulent summer in the club’s illustrious history. The 1894 FA Cup winners were tipped for a promotion challenge last term after losing the 2017/18 playoff semi-final to Coventry City.

Founded in 1862, relegation from League Two last season led to Notts losing their “World’s Oldest Football League Club” title. The Magpies were mired in a battle against the drop all season but three managers (Kevin Nolan, Harry Kewell and Neal Ardley) were unable to keep the club up.

Speaking before the club’s relegation, Nick Richardson, Notts’ Media and Communications Manager, said: “It’s been a very difficult season for everybody involved at the football club, it’s not gone the way we expected. A lot of the rhetoric around the start of the season was about a promotion push.

“From a Media and Comms Manager’s perspective it’s been a season of change and obviously a tinge of disappointment. It’s difficult to put your finger on what’s gone wrong.

“The recruitment in the summer, everyone was very excited to see what those players could do. For whatever reason this season the chemistry just doesn’t seem to have clicked; we’ve been through a few managers, we’ve been through numerous players.

“None of the formulas seem to have formed into a perfect team, so for me it’s one of those freak seasons where things just haven’t clicked into place.”

The Derek Pavis Stand and Air-IT Kop at Meadow Lane.
Photo credit: Michael Callander

Off-pitch affairs looked just as bleak. Former owner Alan Hardy spent months unable to find a suitable buyer for the club, with a number of rumoured bids falling through. FC Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué is among those rumoured to have been interested in the club.

Hardy’s company, Paragon Interiors, went into administration in February and was sold in March.

Notts County employees revealed before their game against Hartlepool United that the full-time staff at the club had gone unpaid for two months over the summer.

While the club was in the process of being sold, County were placed under a transfer embargo, meaning manager Neal Ardley couldn’t rebuild his squad until just days before the start of the National League season.

On July 26, Notts County Football Club was sold to Danish brothers Alexander and Christoffer Reedtz, founders of football analysis company Football Radar.

Speaking to the local media and the Club’s media after the takeover was announced, the Reedtz brothers said: “Ever since we founded the company 10 years ago it has been our goal to own a professional football club, and we are thrilled that the day has come where we have fulfilled this ambition.

“To now have the opportunity to own a club with such heritage as Notts County is a dream come true for both of us…

“In our view, the fans are the foundation of any successful football club. The passion and loyalty that the Notts County fans demonstrate is truly admirable, and of essential importance to the club’s future.”

Since selling up at Meadow Lane, Alan Hardy sold Northern Premier League Division One South East club Ilkeston Town to a consortium headed by Mark Clifford in October.

The club’s new owners have announced plans for a £2 million refurbishment in the coming years, including a new badge and a 4G astroturf pitch; this will allow matches to be played despite inclement weather and promote potential year-round revenue.

The New Manor Ground’s iconic clock tower will house offices for the club’s staff and a new club shop.

Mr Clifford added that their “five-year plan” is for three promotions which would take the club into the National League, the fifth tier where Notts County currently reside.

Planning permission for the refurbishment is pending as the club has held initial planning meetings with Erewash Borough Council.