Cock-up, sell-up: Chairman puts English football club up for sale after inadvertent 'd*ck pic'
Hardy posted the saucy snap, which is taken apparently while bathing, when attempting to point out the fickleness of football fans, referring to two contrasting Twitter messages from the same supporter - one of a Merry Christmas message, the other blaming him for “ruining” the club.
However, the businessman did not bank on his camera roll still showing at the bottom of the snap, revealing a picture of his pride while taking a bath. The tweet was swiftly deleted, but not before the faithful Twitterati noticed the cheeky pic and took the proverbial ball and ran with it.
When Notts fans were shouting “Hardy Out”.I don’t think that’s quite what they had in mind, Alan— Mark NFFC⭐️⭐️🇵🇹🇵🇹 (@MarkWinNFFC) January 27, 2019
Don’t really know where to start with last 24 hours for Notts and Alan Hardy but fair to say it has escalated quickly ...— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) January 27, 2019
I have to say I’m glad to hear Alan Hardy will be leaving Twitter, it’s done him & @Official_NCFC no favours. Especially today.— Vicky McClure (@Vicky_McClure) January 27, 2019
My 93 yr old (D-day veteran) grandad has been a NCFC fan since he was 4 and it’s embarrassing. #forgetthefameconcentrateonthegame
Joking aside, Alan Hardy has brought great shame to our proud little football club with his actions yesterday. Im fully embarrassed by it. It took less than 10 seconds in the staffroom today to get asked about it. Football twitter is awash with it. Disgusting. Get out of our club— Meadow Lane Pie (@properblokefc) January 28, 2019
Hardy did later admit his fault in the incident, claiming the cock-up was "an honest mistake", apologizing to supporters and going on to say he would be stepping away permanently from Twitter after the incident.
"This morning an inappropriate photo appeared in one of my tweets. This was clearly an honest mistake as a result of my camera roll being included in a screenshot. I tried to rectify the error by deleting the tweet as soon as I noticed and I apologise for any offence caused," Hardy wrote.
“Thank you to everyone who continues to support me through what has been a very difficult time. Later this evening I will be deleting my account as I feel this is in the best interests of the football club, my family and myself.
“I have always seen Twitter as a way of engaging with supporters and monitoring ways we can improve as a club. I do, however, accept I have made mistakes on social media and feel now is the time to leave for good.
“Thank you once again to everyone who is sticking by us. I will continue to communicate with you all via official club channels,” he added.
Despite the apology, it was later reported that Hardy could face an FA investigation over the picture. In another twist, Hardy, known as ‘Big Alan’, then announced he would be putting the club up for sale after considerable “soul-searching” and stated his intention to dedicate his time to other business interests.
“After considerable soul-searching I no longer feel I can continue as the owner of Notts County Football Club,” he said in a statement on Sunday evening. “I would like to make it clear from the outset that the club’s current league position is not a factor in this decision, nor are any of the events which have unfolded in the media this weekend.
“Everyone at Meadow Lane remains staunchly committed to preserving our proud status as the world’s oldest Football League club and, until a new buyer is found, I will continue to support that aim.
“The truth is, my efforts to restore Notts County’s fortunes over the last two years mean my other businesses have had to take a back seat. They are now in need of my full attention.”
Notts have sunk to 92nd of the 92 clubs in the Football League under Hardy's stewardship, and ‘The Magpies’ are currently eight points adrift from safety. Hardy revealed he has “held talks with two interested parties” about a sale.