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Left Magpie: Home Improvements

29 July 20 words: Colin Sisson

During Lockdown, I became particularly partial to home improvement programmes. There was something quite therapeutic, during a time of intense instability and incoherence, watching someone making sense out of chaos by turning a decommissioned Soviet missile into a glamping pod.

Notts’ current season could easily feature on George Clarke’s ‘Amazing Spaces’. In typical fashion, he’d scratch his head with wonderment at exactly what brothers Christoffer and Alexander Reedtz saw in their purchase of a club very much in need of serious renovation and he’d chuckle nervously at their ambitious forecast of what could be achieved in a year, before shaking their hands and wishing them well, accompanied by some suspenseful music and the camera fading...

Construction had been the big issue before the Reedtz takeover, with other consortiums seemingly more interested in converting a disputed patch of land behind the Kop than building anything remarkable on the pitch. But very quickly the Reedtz brothers demonstrated that they were far more interested in establishing firm footballing foundations.

One of those foundations was to keep faith in manager Neal Ardley, a man who had begun excavating unpleasant aspects of the club since his appointment in November 2018 but couldn’t prevent Notts toppling into the National League. Ardley had demonstrated enormous strength during the instability the club faced during the summer’s takeover and, perhaps as crucially, had a promotion win in his portfolio. 

But, perhaps most importantly, Ardley demonstrated a willingness to listen and deliver the type of project the new owners wanted. The Reedtz’s business ‘Football Radar’ specialises in performance data analysis and wanted to use this to Notts’ benefit. Collaboratively, the three worked in unison to identify players and aspects of performance to maximise the impact on what Kevin McCloud might describe ‘an ambitious task’ of getting Notts back into the Football League. 

Sourcing the right materials had been an issue for Notts ever since Sven folded up his five-year plan once he found Munto’s mythical millions were foundation-less. The renovations that followed tended to favour trips to the salvage yard, trying to patch up Notts’ reputation as The Oldest League Club in the World by attempting to upcycle fallen Premiership stars.

But since losing that Grade I Listed league status, it feels that Notts have felt freer and more ambitious in their transfer choices and fans can now look forward to watching the likes of Alex Lacey, Kyle Wootton and Cal Roberts hone their skills at Meadow Lane to often dazzling effect. 

Should George Clark return to the Reedtz rebuild a year on, he’d find a club very much transformed. Rather than giving stands a superficial lick of paint, they’ve rolled up their sleeves and addressed some fundamental structural issues at the club by investing in, informing and trusting staff to fulfil their design brief. They’ve not interfered or even openly engaged too often, allowing space for those entrusted with specialist roles and responsibilities to demonstrate their craft. 

Notts’ ‘Amazing Spaces’ episode would cut to the final scene at another ambitious structure: Wembley. Although fans can only gaze in wonder through our television sets at this momentous transformation of the club’s fortunes in such a short space of time, whatever the result, we can be safe in the knowledge that the club sits on sturdier ground than it did a year ago.

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