From Notts-ing to Never-ending funds – football’s oldest club hits the Middle East Jackpot

If you’re a Newcastle fan and you’re currently reading this sentence, I’d like for you to click back with your mouse and stop reading at the point. In all honesty, this story is just going to make you even more depressed.

Whilst Tyneside is still trying to get over the heartache of Championship football next season and the idea of having Mike Ashley and the Cockney Mafia around for at least another season, there are other clubs out there that are reaping the sweet rewards of having an Middle East sugar daddy.

No, we’re not talking about Manchester City — that story has been circulating for some time now. The club we’re actually talking about is the one that currently holds the title of being the oldest professional football club on the planet (establish in 1862) and goes by the name, The Magpies. (Sorry Newcastle, we’re still not talking about you.)

The club we’re talking about plays their football on Saturdays in League Two, where they finished this season a disappointing 19th in the league and looked destined for mediocrity next season. But that was before England’s oldest club got the lifeline of their dreams.

Notts County will no longer be the whipping boy of League Two, not after a Middle East consortium going by the name of Munto Finance Limited took over the club in a multi-million pound deal. The move — which is still pending usual financial diligence checks — is one that could pull the Magpies out of the League Two doldrums and back into the race.

Whilst Notts County supporters are singing the praises of the potential deal, there are many Premier League fans out there who currently scratching their heads wondering how little Notts County won the golden ticket that could see their club become relevant again.

“Manchester United are probably about a billion pounds in debt, something like that I hear, they have to spend about £50m plus a year just to service that debt,” said club chairman John Armstrong-Holmes.

“Liverpool were £300m in debt, they want another £300m or more for their new stadium, so when you look at Notts County as a proposition, rather than those propositions, what a success story.

“You can take the world’s oldest football league club, progress it through the leagues gradually with a common sense approach, rather than throw all that money into a banker’s pot or someone else’s pot.”

In the end, the move to try and save Notts County came down to the fact that the group of businessmen wanted to restore the oldest professional football club in the world to their rightful place amongst some of the greats. So does that mean Notts will be playing in the Premier League in five or six years time? Who knows for sure at the moment, but given some recent comments, it looks like they do have some high expectations.

“Over the next few years Munto will invest in the underlying fabric and infrastructure, as well as making funds available to improve the playing and coaching staff and for nurturing home talent,” said the group in a statement last week.

“Investment in an improved youth programme and further integration within the community are just as important as success on the park.

“To achieve this Munto intend to invest in a structured and staged way to achieve their initial objective of making the club an established Championship side within four to five years.

“They have an overall commitment to the community and fans alike – ensuring a solid and long future to enable the club to steadily rise through the tables, eventually depending on their own resources.”

Given where they currently sit in League Two, the call for Championship football from their current perch is the equivalent to calling for Premier League or bust with a club that sat just above the relegation zone in the Championship last season. Needless to say, the task will be a steep one.

It’s been a while since Notts County found themselves in a position of power but after all these years of relative obscurity, the world’s oldest club is relevant once more.

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  1. Hugo 10 June, 2009
  2. barkas 11 June, 2009
  3. Ian Davies 11 June, 2009