Focus on Notts County, who visit Burnley tomorrow

FANCY owning a football club?

One owner, excellent stadium, team has seen better days but an influx of capital could make all the difference.

For a mere £3 million or so, you could take control of Notts County - and that's official.

But whether Meadow Lane's much-criticised chairman Derek Pavis receives any offers after making his intriguing sales pitch is uncertain.

It unlikely to happen before County visit Turf Moor tomorrow, in something of an impoverished state on and off the pitch.

In a remarkable counter-attack on supporters calling for him and general manager Colin Murphy to go, Pavis didn't pull any punches.

Speaking via the club programme before one of two successive home stalemates this week - one goal being scored by County's feeble frontline to sum up one of their problems - he said: "If anyone out there has £3 million or can form a consortium to put that sort of money together, I will be delighted to go. "In fact, it would be a blessed relief to do so - not only for me but also for my immediate family.

"People pay their money and they are entitled to their opinion. But passing an opinion and staging a demonstration - or sending me really malicious letters - are poles apart.

"I sometimes wonder if the supporters of this club think I enjoy losing. I get just as frustrated, if not more so, because I am so close to it seven days a week.

"What I find so irritating is that, over the nine years I have been at Meadow Lane, people are always quick to encourage me to sack the manager whenever we hit a bad patch.

"They wanted John Barnwell out and made my life hell to get rid of Neil Warnock - despite all the success he had given us.

"The same applied with Mick Walker and Russell Slade and now they want me to kick out the two men who took us to Wembley just four months ago.

"I'm not too sure what people want from me any more. But I do know that I have nothing to be ashamed of and that I'm still standing by the management team." The words of chairman Derek will find a sympathetic reaction among many men who have the destinies of football clubs in their hands.

Especially if, like County, they could well go out of business without his financial backing.

It's only four years since the Magpies were playing top-flight football.

Ironically, the Football League's oldest club began its latest downward spiral at the same moment that the oldest League in the world suffered its biggest and most radical change.

County are now £2.3 million in debt - all of it owed to the chairman - with a further £1 million overdraft he has guaranteed at the bank.

Thousands of pounds are being added to the deficit weekly.

On the pitch, County's lack of goals is seen in a not-so-grand total of just 10 from their 13 Second Division fixtures.

Veteran striker Tony Agana, who scored County's last goal - in the 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers on Saturday - has come nowhere near the healthy striking rate he enjoyed in his golden days at Sheffield United. But help could be at hand, as Sean Farrell has joined the Meadow Lane cause this week, moving from Peterborough for an undisclosed fee, as Murphy and team manager Steve Thompson try to add some extra goal power to a team that has not fared badly at all defensively.

While scoring only 10, it's fair to point out that County have conceded just 11 goals - not exactly the Newcastle of the lower divisions are they, despite sharing similar colours and nicknames.

But, after the problems at Meadow Lane, they could be lifted by the atmosphere at Turf Moor tomorrow.

Pavis remains optimistic that a promotion challenge this season is still a possibility but the bottom line is:

"Like I've said - give me my money back and I'll be only too pleased to grant the wishes of those so-called supporters with their banners."

Any offers?

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.