IT’S LESS THAN three months since Louise Quinn joined Notts County, but all of a sudden, her future has been thrown into uncertainty.
This morning, it was confirmed that the club’s ladies team have folded, just two days before they were due to open their Spring Series campaign against Arsenal.
The team had previously been Lincoln Ladies before relocating three years ago and they have also been one of the top sides in Britain of late.
In addition to Quinn — an experienced Ireland player with 47 caps and Champions League experience at club level — England internationals Carly Telford, Laura Bassett, Jade Moore and Jo Potter were part of the squad.
As well as reaching the FA Cup final, the club had finished sixth in the WSL 1 last season.
Having undergone financial difficulties, local businessman Alan Hardy purchased the debt-ridden club last December.
Despite attempts to turn the situation around, with a bill of almost £1million, the club today made the difficult decision to withdraw from the women’s league.
Our priority is the welfare of the players and we will work closely with them, the PFA and wider stakeholders to support them through this time,” an FA spokesperson said following the news.
“It’s a very sad day for me personally and supporters should rest assured I have left no stone unturned in my quest to save the club,” Notts County chairman Hardy added in a statement.
Notwithstanding the well-documented financial problems, the news still came as a big shock to players and staff. Hardy previously was understood to have indicated that the ladies team could stay afloat for the immediate future at least, so today’s news has understandably left people reeling, particularly as it comes so close to the start of the season.
Quinn and her teammates initially suspected something was awry last night, when they each received a text message informing them that Friday’s training was cancelled and they were required to attend a meeting at 11am this morning.
“We went into (Notts County’s home stadium) Meadow Lane, waited about for a bit and then had the meeting,” Quinn tells The42.
They spoke to the club captains first, they walked in with a couple of people from the board — I’m not even entirely sure who they were.
“They basically just told us the news straight out that the club was no more and that it’s gone into liquidation.
That was maybe 11.15 and within five or 10 minutes, the club had released a statement, so we didn’t really get to tell our friends or family — a lot of people found out through social media.”
Having only signed for Notts County in February, Quinn’s time at the club has ended before it could really begin. Nevertheless, she was as stunned as the rest of her tearful teammates by today’s shock news.
There have been talks about it before, but from my point of view, I got signed, another one of the girls got signed. Basically, the chairman led us to believe that it was going to be okay, even for the girls that had been in the club for a while, he led them to believe that everything was going to be sorted. It’s really devastating. A lot of people have their lives here. Some of them work part-time, they study, they’re settled.
“Some of the houses that we live in, they’re owned by the club, we’re not sure how long we can actually stay for. We don’t know when we’ll be asked to leave the houses. It’s a massive shock.”
And does she feel let down by the people at the top of the club, given that this news has come more or less out of the blue, with previous indications that the ladies team would be safe for the immediate future at least?
Yeah, pretty much,” she says. “The club have said that they’ve tried to resolve it, it just hasn’t been possible, but they may have known for longer (what was going to happen).
“That they signed another couple of players (in pre-season) makes you think everything is going to be okay. When they told us (the news) today, they had no answers for us. We were trying to figure out what had happened, what had gone on, what is going to happen to our future. Will we get our wages for this month? They had absolutely no answers, which was even tougher to take. We have no idea what’s going on — we’re all stuck in limbo.
People are trying to figure out how they’ll pay rent, how they’ll pay bills, everything like that. There are girls (supposed to be) playing in the Euros as well. Trying to find a new team, it’s not an ideal stage of the year — other clubs have probably used up their budgets to try to get new players.”
A 26-year-old centre-back from Blessington, Quinn began her senior career at Peamount United before joining Swedish club Eskilstuna United in 2013. After four years there in which she was team captain for a period, Quinn left Scandinavia at the end of last season and ultimately linked up with the English side.
I don’t have some of those commitments that some of the other girls (at Notts County) have,” she explains. “But to come over here, looking forward to getting the league going, it still doesn’t make it any easier, especially when I see my teammates being so upset about it. All the time and effort we’ve put in so far (in pre-season) has gone to waste.
With no part-time job to fall back on, Quinn is currently reliant on football to make a living and is hopeful her future can be resolved sooner rather than later.
Women’s football can be a little bit unpredictable at times,” she adds. “It shows what they think of us to let our part of the club go into liquidation. We’re no longer a team or a club anymore. Although Notts County men’s team are obviously still there and going.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened to a women’s club. It’s very sad.”
Moreover, having also been involved in a well-documented controversy with the Irish team recently, is Quinn optimistic about emerging in a positive fashion from a similarly disconcerting situation?
On a personal level with the Irish team girls, we were very proud of our achievement to push women’s football forward in Ireland in that way,” she says. “When we had that done, I was really excited to come back to Notts and fully concentrate on playing my football.
“I’ve had to jump one hurdle and thought I was coming towards the finish line and starting with a brand new club here, but it seems like there are another few hurdles to pass now. But I’ve had a lot of texts from the (Irish) girls letting me know that they’re there for support.
The same with the Notts girls here, we’re just all trying to help each other out and get everything sorted. There could be a bit to go and I’m unsure what’s going to happen.
“It feels very fresh — there’s no answer to anything at the moment. The questions are hard because we have no answers.”
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