Hardy remains confident as battle for NMG hots up

The New Manor Ground
The New Manor Ground

Notts County chairman Alan Hardy believes he is the frontrunner in the race to start a new football team in Ilkeston.

His newly-incorporated Ilkeston Town FC have been allocated a place in the Midland Football League Division One at step six in the non-league pyramid, two levels below where Ilkeston FC would have played had they survived.

And although Erewash Borough Council are yet to officially confirm which of the two bidders for the New Manor Ground lease will be successful, Hardy’s plans appear to be well advanced.

Speaking to the Nottingham Post, Hardy said: “I am in very detailed negotiations with the liquidator.

“The club (Ilkeston FC) has been wound up but I understand we are the only show in town with a credible offer.

“There was talk of various consortiums that had put offers in but we are the only ones who have really put our hands up to revive the club.

“We want football to return to Ilkeston and we have registered Ilkeston Town Football Club as a corporate entity so if a deal happens we are ready.

“Any deal needs a licence from the council because they own the ground.”

No details of the other bid have yet been made public knowledge.

Michael Roome of Smith Cooper, the liquidators appointed to deal with the demise of Ilkeston FC, says Erewash Borough Council are expected to make a decision very soon.

He told the Advertiser: “We’re at advanced stages now but there are a few issues that just need to be ironed out before any announcements can be made as there have been some delays with certain aspects.

“Neither of the two bids has more chance than the other - both are credible and both are being assessed on their own merits.

“Both have agreements in place with the FA with regard to names and league allocations, so whichever is successful should have no problem getting up and running in time for the new season.”

The Midland Football League largely comprises teams from the West Midlands although Heanor Town and Long Eaton United play in its Premier Division, one above the level Hardy’s teamwould play at if successful.

Among the teams they would face are Atherstone Town, Brocton, Lichfield City, Stafford Town and Walsall Wood, as well as another ‘phoenix club’ in the shape of Hinckley who formed from the ashes of Hinckley United in 2014.

As things stand, no fixtures have been announced for the MFL although the league campaign is due to commence on August 12, leaving the new Ilkeston club very little time to form a team ready to compete.