Nottingham businessman Alan Hardy is delighted to announce his purchase of Ilkeston Town FC for an undisclosed fee from the club’s liquidators, Midlands based accountancy and advisory firm Smith Cooper.
Hardy, who owns several successful companies, including Paragon Interiors and the Nottinghamshire Golf and Country Club, and who also acquired Notts County Football Club in January, has struck a deal to secure the future of the club after it was wound up in the High Court last month.
Hardy said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have completed my purchase of Ilkeston FC and can confirm that the club’s name will revert to Ilkeston Town Football Club with immediate effect.
“It is with great excitement that I also announce Steve Chettle as the club’s new manager following his departure from National League North side Nuneaton Town, where he was assistant manager.
“Steve is an Ilkeston and Nottingham Forest legend who I’m sure will prove to be an exciting appointment for supporters.
“He will be assisted by Ian Deakin, who brings plenty of experience and local knowledge after managing Kimberley last season.
“Having grown up in neighbouring Eastwood, I simply couldn’t allow one of the East Midlands’ finest non-league clubs’ existence to cease when I knew there was a viable method for me to take it forward.
“I am grateful to the FA for giving us the opportunity to compete in the Midland Football League Division One this season and it’s now time to move on with making Ilkeston Town a success on and off the field following a very challenging period for the club.
“I also have a very clear message to the supporters of Notts County, and to football fans in general, who I am sure would like assurances over my commitment to the world’s oldest Football League club.
“Ilkeston Town will have its own corporate governance, with separate directors, financial structure and accountability.
“Naturally, as would be the case between any professional and semi-professional football clubs, there will be an opportunity for transactions when it comes to such things as the loaning of players, sharing of expertise and so on.
“However, it is essential that any dealings between the two clubs are carried out with the best interests of their respective stakeholders in mind.
“I am absolutely committed to making Ilkeston Town not only self-sustainable, but also competitive and ambitious in aiming to claim a place in the second tier of non-league football in the medium term.
“Until this particular opportunity arose it was never my intention to acquire another football club. There are very few, if any, other clubs I would rescue. As I touched on earlier, Ilkeston are a special case for me personally and, as was the case with Notts County, it would have genuinely hurt me to see them die.
“I vividly remember my seven-year-old self standing behind the goal, bang in the centre, lapping up every minute of derbies between Ilkeston Town and Eastwood, as well as other local matches involving the likes of Long Eaton, Heanor Town, Belper, Kimberley and Arnold. They were all blood- stirring encounters and all those memories have enabled me to carry great enthusiasm into my career in football.
“I am now looking forward to working with the people of Ilkeston to develop a club they, and their town, deserve.”
On the sale, Dean Nelson, Head of Business Recovery and Insolvency at Smith Cooper, commented: "Ilkeston FC is a pillar in the local community, so I'm delighted that we've been able to achieve a sale of the business and its assets, with Erewash Borough Council's support, ultimately securing football to be played this season. Credit is also due to the fans who have remained passionate and patient throughout this difficult time whilst a sale has been concluded.
"The club has a fantastic track record of developing players through its academy and remains at the heart of its local community. I am confident that Alan Hardy and his backroom team will transform this club and provide a solid platform for it to achieve long-term success."
Simon Trees, Partner at Nelsons Solicitors, who also advised on the legal aspects of the sale on behalf of the Liquidators, commented: "We are delighted to have assisted Smith Cooper on this transaction and hope the club can look forward to a successful future under Alan Hardy's ownership.
"The football club has a long and distinguished history in the local region and we are happy to see this continue."