English top-flight club Notts County Ladies have folded, two days before their first match of the Women’s Super League One 2017 Spring Series season.
Due to face Arsenal in WSL 1 on Sunday, Notts players were told at 11:00 BST on Friday the club cannot stay afloat.
Previously known as Lincoln Ladies before relocating in 2014, the squad included England’s Carly Telford, Laura Bassett, Jade Moore and Jo Potter.
Notts finished sixth in WSL 1 in 2016 after reaching the 2015 FA Cup final.
In March, a winding-up petition against the club was adjourned for a second time, giving Notts until 3 July to pay debts owed to HM Revenue and Customs.
Local businessman Alan Hardy purchased Notts County’s men’s and women’s clubs in December, aiming to clear debts owed to HMRC by both outfits.
A club statement said: “Alan Hardy has reluctantly admitted defeat in his bid to save Notts County Ladies Football Club after facing a near-£1m bill to keep the club afloat this season.
“The Notts County chairman and owner had hoped to restructure six-figure HMRC debts inherited from Ray Trew and fund ongoing projected losses this season of half a million pounds.
“Despite weeks of negotiations with lawyers, HMRC and the FA, Hardy has now called time on his plans to save the Ladies set-up.
“The club has today been officially withdrawn from the Women’s Super League and will play no matches in the Spring Series, including this Sunday’s away fixture at Arsenal.”
David Jackson, BBC Radio Nottingham
All the noises from Alan Hardy had suggested that the tax bill would be paid and that Notts County Ladies would be able to continue, so this news comes out of the blue.
He had even spoken about creating an academy for girls from across the county.
I was at Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup final against Chelsea in 2015 when it seemed like the club was on the way up. Even now, four of the current squad are in the England set-up.
They’ve only been in existence – since moving from Lincoln – for three years and this is a loss for Nottingham as well as for women’s football.
More to follow.