Notts County - The Controversial Article

Last updated : 26 October 2009 By Gary Hutchinson

Now that the clouds of dust has settled from the most talked about article in LCM history, we’ve decided to put the article back online, with a degree of editing. Please be aware this is the thoughts of a single individual and not those of every Imps fan.

In the wake of the article being published originally I received numerous emails, threats and even death threats. Sadly 90% of the emails and messageboard posts were just vile rants littered with bad language and threats. There were of course one or two very disgruntled Notts fans who did manage to put an argument across without resorting to violence and threats. It’s a shame that was a small proportion. To those people I thank them for their restraint when reading my opinions, and I concede that the article featured the occasional factual innaccuracy which I've happily corrected.


“The football world was rocked this week when the news broke that Notts County manager Ian ‘Charlie’ McParland had been sacked writes Gary Hutchinson.

After leading one of the division’s poorer teams from last season to 5th in the league, the final straw came after a 2-2 draw at Torquay which stretched their unbeaten run to five games.


Five games unbeaten after a dismal outing last season, coupled with some strong performances away at places like Sincil Bank…… hardly the stuff sackings are made of. If Jacko had led us on that sort of run he’d still be sat in his office today telling Steff Oakes he had a bad season last year. He isn’t though, because he didn’t lead us on a five match unbeaten run. He’s sat at home now probably watching Jeremy Kyle. Lets hope its not a ‘two months ago my bosses loved me, but now I’m sacked and on the scrapheap’ special featuring John Barnes and Simon Davey.


Charlie was odd’s on to get the sack first this season, but as it transpired he didn’t even manage to be the first man sacked this week. As soon as the faceless money men started throwing their cash at the worlds ‘oldest professional football club’, Charlie had a big old countdown hovering above his head. One day, ten days, a month….. it didn’t matter really because he knew he could safely make plans to be away at Christmas and not have to let the wife down at last minute. I hear he even booked a mini break at Halloween.


So names now being linked with the club include Robert Mancini and Gordon Strachan. To say this would be a coup would be an understatement, to say these managers are seriously considering joining the latest football fairground attraction would be a lie. Players, officials and the like are dipping their toe in the Notts County fountain of money, and just not finding the temperature to their liking. Sol Campbell would rather sit on his backside until January than turn out for them after receiving broken promises and shattered dreams. I’d love to know what dreams the big man had of playing League Two football for Notts County. The image of Morecombe’s Jim Bentley giving Sol some lower league hospitality really endeared me to the Shrimpers player. Campbell walked.  


No the rumour mill has linked Mancini, but it’s not going to happen. They’ve linked Strachan and it won’t happen either. They’ve also linked David Platt….. hold up!


David who sorry? David Platt? The ex England captain with a sterling record in club management? Sorry let me rephrase that, the ex England captain who failed as a manager in Italy and then took over Notts Forest and failed miserably there as well? That David Platt? Yup, that’s the one.


Now at this point I wonder if the whole thing has been a lifelong conspiracy. David Platt becomes a national hero on the pitch, and pretends to be a football manager at Sampdoria. He’s rubbish though, but Nottingham Forest still take him on. From there he tries to kill Forest (becoming a County legend) before taking a hiatus from the game to study it like a Buddhist monk in a temple somewhere in the Middle East. A temple owned by some people who operate under the shady name of Munto perhaps? Then when the time is right he comes out from exile and takes County to the top of the world, in true superhero fashion.


A more plausible explanation is that Sven is trying to put his own men in place, and it will just be another amusing chapter of the Notts County soap opera for us all to laugh at.


Personally I had a hint of jealousy when the money hit. I’ve never liked a portion of County fans, they always seem to think that because they are old and were once in the Premiership they are somehow better than us, and in that respect they reminded me of Peter Beagrie.

(I'll happily state that I made an error here, I have nothing against every fan. I have some very good friends who are Notts fans. Well they were good friends prior to last Saturday, strangely not returning my calls now.)

You see if you play in League Two, you are a League Two club. So County fans if you finish in 17th or 18th place then that makes you a poor League Two club, and that’s what you were. Now of course you are a rich League Two club and that I admit I couldn’t handle. It felt like I’d be playing Monopoly with my family, and while I was in the kitchen my Dad raided the bank and bought everything on the board. I felt cheated, I felt as if there had been some massive injustice served. Of all the clubs who deserved a massive windfall it was my club, honourably soldiering on through the years, always careful not to overspend.


At this point I have to pose a question. What about the League ruling that your wage bill cannot exceed (and correct me if I’m wrong) something like 70% of your gate receipts? Does this include management? If so what are the prices on the gate at County these days? If they get round this by offering bonuses instead of a firm wages, surely this can be defined as ‘cheating’ rather than ‘getting round’ something.


However my jealousy peaked with the signing of Lee Hughes. He’s a good striker, and the day he signed I truly did feel the green eyed monster beginning to burst out. However his signing came around the same time that Sven parked his sports car near Meadow Lane and immediately turned a viable venture by Middle Eastern business men into a season long running joke. What does he know about League Two football? What did he know about international football? What does he know about football? The answer in my eyes, is nothing.

(Apparently this part of the article caused major offence, because apparently Sven is one of the most decorated and talented managers of our generation. Which is why he failed when managing Mexico. Which is why the most talented set of England players, the ‘golden generation’ couldn’t beat Portugal in consecutive tournaments? Which is why for one World Cup he took a 16 year old boy who didn’t get a game, an injured Michael Owen, a striker with a worse scoring record for England than most other available options and Peter Crouch? Is this why he left Jermaine Defoe at home? I 100% stand by my comments on Sven Goran Erikkson, as a football manager he is limited and seems to follow the money wherever it may be.)


Then when Sol signed the air of incredulity hit me. He was a man I had a certain amount of respect for, but respect can be lost quite quickly. ‘I’m here for the challenge’ said Sol, which I assumed was the challenge of managing to spend £50,000 a week in such a deprived area. The money he was on a month could probably have saved Accrington Stanley, it certainly could have helped 90% of League Two clubs meet their budget. It felt tasteless and vile that so much money was being flaunted in the faces of so many teams who were struggling.

(Again I stand by these comments as controversial as you may feel they are. Many Lincoln fans also felt that my comparison of Stanleys troubles and Notts County’s luck were unfair. I didn’t receive any negative comments from Stanley fans)

However my respect can be instantly regained, and by walking out and then rubbishing County in the papers he almost reached the level he’d been at prior to signing. Not quite though, he’ll always be a bit tainted, like someone who’s slept with Jordan. They might be a great guy, but they did always do that thing.


Now of course I eagerly await each day for further news of the latest attraction at the circus. The Sun has happily decided to launch a crusade against them after the initial fanfare, and for once me and the nation’s widest circulating comic are in agreement. Every game they fail to win makes me smile, and every time a bad story comes out I smile a little more. Luke Rodgers arrested? Shame. The new owners becoming ‘disillusioned’ with life in League Two? Someone pass me a needle and thread, because my sides are splitting with laughter.


There will be innocent victims of the saga of course; the fans that are left behind when the project goes sour, when whatever ulterior motive the owners may have is revealed and they leave the club in the lurch. The fans of the club will be left with an empty shell of a club vacated and consigned to the basement division for as long as they continue to survive. It’ll be a bit like the night after the school prom, bottles strewn around an empty hall, streamers and balloons trampled underfoot. The partygoers will all have left, and only the janitor and staff remain to facilitate the clean up. That’s the future for Notts County fans, a big clean up.


In the interest of fairness I also include below a passage about the approval of the takeover by the FA, as it obviously has relevance to the original article.



“Notts County's takeover by Munto Finance has finally been approved by the Football League.

Munto Finance completed the buyout in July and promised to invest millions of pounds into the ailing League Two club.

But there had been doubts whether the deal would be ratified because mystery surrounded the identity of the club's new Middle East owners.

However the Football League are now satisfied the new owners pass the Fit and Proper Persons test.

A statement from the Football League said: "This decision is based on the extensive disclosure provided by the club with regard to its ownership structure.”