First the Great Escape - now Hartlepool United have new owners

Victoria Park, the home of Hartlepool United Football Club.

Victoria Park, the home of Hartlepool United Football Club.

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Recruitment firm JPNG Global is to take over at Hartlepool United after Increased Oil Recovery announced they’d sold the club.

On another dramatic day at Victoria Park, IOR revealed a sale had been agreed for the League Two side but didn’t confirm who was taking over – with an official announcement set for Monday.

Jeff Stelling sitting next to Ken Hodcroft. Picture by FRANK REID

Jeff Stelling sitting next to Ken Hodcroft. Picture by FRANK REID

But SportMail understands JPNG Global, who have offices in Dubai and London, will take charge.

JPNG Global are a a specialist recruitment consultancy firm with clients in Dubai, the UAE and UK, and have been talking with Pools for several weeks.

Ken Hodcroft immediately stepped down as chairman after the news broke at teatime on Friday, but chief executive Russ Green is understood to be staying on under the new regime.

IOR have been looking for new investment for 18-months, with TMH (The Monkey Hangers) 2014’s takeover last December collapsing within six weeks of it being announced.

IOR believe this will be in the best interests for taking the club forward into hopefully some exciting years ahead

HARTLEPOOL UNITED STATEMENT

The club has remained up for sale since and JPNG Global, who specialise in construction and IT, will now back Ronnie Moore’s bid to revamp the Pools squad.

A new signing – to add to the six new faces already brought in – is also expected to be announced on Monday.

Reading loanee Aaron Tshibola and ex-Pools winger Andy Monkhouse, who has left Bristol Rovers, have both been linked with a return.

IOR, who have owned Pools for 18 years, thanked the club’s staff and fans for their support in a statement released last night, adding the decision had been taken with the club’s “best interests” at heart.

It read: “For approximately 18 years IOR have owned Hartlepool United but today they can announce that new owners will be taking over the club and Ken Hodcroft will step down as chairman from today.

“IOR believe this will be in the best interests for taking the club forward into hopefully some exciting years ahead.

“IOR would like to thank everybody for working together from January onwards to pull off ‘The Great Escape’ at the end of last season, including all members of staff and, particularly, the fans who gave their full support to the club and IOR through what was a very critical period for the club.

“A further more detailed statement will be made on Monday 22nd June.”

Increased Oil Recovery took over at Victoria Park back in September 1997 and enjoyed a sustained period of success in the 2000s.

But the relationship with fans had soured in recent seasons as investment dried up.

Confirmation the club has been sold comes less than six months after a failed takeover bid by TMH 2014, which was fronted by businessman Peter Harris.

The proposed takeover collapsed at the 11th-hour following serious concerns within the club’s hierarchy about TMH’s long-term plans for the club.

Those concerns were serious enough to call it off six weeks after it was first announced.

Hodcroft insisted then that the decision was taken with the long-term interest of the club in mind.

The share purchase agreement (SPA) was signed in mid-December but TMH had been waiting for Football League approval, which involved passing the owners and director’s test and proving proof of funding.

They got that partial approval at the end of January subject to a few amendments – which is the point the club and IOR called off the sale, as revealed by SportMail.

The club’s hierarchy has since been looking for new investment/owners as Pools secured Football League status for another year.