So, a vast percentage of Notts fans now have what they want… “Trew Out.” Potential news broke rather cryptically late last night but then was confirmed this morning; Alan Hardy will become the new owner of Notts County Football Club.
Rather than dissect the pro’s and con’s of Hardy upcoming ownership, it would be more prudent to look at what Hardy has to do at the club he’s purchased.
Get the fans onside
Over the years I’ve watched Notts, we’ve witnessed some desperate times. We’ve been as desperate needing a result on the last day to keep us in the league and travelling to see Notts’ (potentially) last game ever as a profession football club. Even though currently the situation isn’t that desperate, I’ve never known the Notts faithful to be so low on confidence and enthusiasm. Crowds are a big worry; to not get 4,000 for the last home game before Christmas is alarming. There are very good reasons fans are staying away so Hardy must do what he can to entice some of those fans back. I’ve hammered the club for its poor ticket offer schemes in the past and Hardy has a chance to start to rectify this. Get the student ticket offer up and running and give it some proper PR. Put some offers together for three or four game ‘packages’ at a time, ‘Dad and Lad’ tickets, just something to make people want to come back. As well as this, reward the Season Ticket Holders. Ticket offers for ‘on and off’ fans are great, but these stalwarts are the heartbeat of the club; get a few free hot drink vouchers out there or bring back the free program; again, just something to put a bit of spark back in the fan base. Then when renewal season comes around, lets get the ‘want’ for season tickets becoming a buzz around the club.
For me, the big thing Hardy should and must do is communicate openly with the fans through the proper channels. He should look to do something similar to CEO Jason Tuner, regular and to the point updates to keep fans in the loop via the club website. As a fan I don’t need to know every detail, but I do want to be kept in the loop and this must come from someone employed by the club in a professional manner. With that in mind, Hardy should disband the SLO team and not communicate with fans via Twitter (although I’d appreciate you read this Alan when I @ it to you…). This would (hopefully) stop any confusion with club correspondence and allow fans to know what is going on at the club or what is on the horizon. Something that has been sadly lacking over the past couple of years. Whilst I can see the role the SLO’s could play, I feel what they are asked/expected/required to do by Notts is well above and beyond what a none paid, part time role at the club should be being asked to do.
Back Sheridan… or sack him
The final three words might be controversial for some, but Hardy has a big choice to make and it’s a choice that must be made soon. It’s well known that Hardy follows Notts and attends games, so he has an understanding of the playing situation. If he deems that Sheridan’s time is up and he has an replacement in mind, then he must show Sheridan the door ASAP. This will allow the new man to assess and bring in players fit to wear the shirt. Personally, from what we can infer about the Trew/Hardy negotiations being so drawn out, I’d be surprised of Hardy has thought about a replacement for Sheridan.
In that case, Hardy must back Sheridan to the hilt in January because we are struggling. We need at least three new defenders as an absolute priority and these must come as early as possible in January. Also, Hardy must be willing to ship a few players out. Although it pains me to say it, Stanley Aborah looks like he’s not in Sheridan’s plans so would be high on the list, alongside the likes of Alex Rodman and Vadine Oliver when his loan runs out. Both of these things would give Sheridan the means to start to turn our season around, something that needs to happen very soon.
As far as ‘medium’ and ‘long’ term planning goes, that is for Hardy and his team to think of, but in the short term he should look to capitalise on the renewed spirit of the fans brought about by this mornings announcement and get the club off to a positive start in the New Year. With all that said, there are two final messages I’d like to send.
Firstly, to Ray Trew. Any sane Notts fan will be forever grateful for you taking over and stabilising the club after the Munto Finance fiasco which enabled us to gain promotion at the end of that season. Without that, we wouldn’t have a professional football club to support today. Any and all personal abuse aimed at you or a member of your family is totally abhorrent and wrong but that has come from an awful minority at Notts County and is looked upon dimly by the rest of the fan base. I wish you and your family all the best for whatever the future holds.
Secondly and finally, to the fans. Now we’ve got what the majority wanted, let’s make this the fresh start the whole club desperately needs. Let’s unite behind the club that unites us all and make 2017 a million miles away from what 2016 was. Let Alan Hardy get on with running the club and bringing about the best for us. At the end of the day, that’s what we want; the best for Notts County Football Club. So let’s make it happen together.