Good response from Pools fans over study

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HUNDREDS of football fans have taken part in a major study to see what economic benefits Hartlepool United brings to the town.

The League One club and Hartlepool Borough Council have resumed talks over a possible sale of the Victoria Park ground after negotiations broke down in September 2010.

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They teamed up to jointly commission an independent economic study to determine the value of the club to the town.

Fans had until the end of December to take part and the results are still being collated by an independent firm.

The study will help show the economic benefits that the football club brings to town, the impact it has on the community and the role of the club in promoting a positive image.

Club officials say the results are expected to be published within the next couple of months.

The exact number of responses is not yet known but a spokesman for the club said hundreds of fans had taken part.

The spokesman added: “We were really pleased with the response from fans and the club would like to thank everybody that took part.”

Pools chief executive Russ Green has previously said the independent study is a “positive step” forward in trying to progress the sale of the ground.

Club owner Increased Oil Recovery (IOR) wants to buy the Clarence Road ground, which it leases from the council for around £18,000 a year, on a long-term deal.

But a series of behind-closed doors meetings in recent years came to nothing and the talks broke down when the council rejected what it labelled a “derisory” offer.

That figure was £10,000 plus interest, giving a total of £50,000.

Council chiefs said that was less than a tenth of its value, but stressed the door remained open if the club came back with a “realistic offer”.

As reported at the time, Mr Hodcroft also revealed the first offer for £300,000 was rejected several years ago.

But talks are now back underway and the council says it is still “minded” to sell the ground if the right deal can be struck.

Hartlepool Borough Council has owned the ground since 1961 after the-then chairman Ernie Ord sold Victoria Park to the authority for £10,000 to avoid the club going bust.

At the same time as the study, the council has also invited developers to submit proposals for the wider development of the Mill House site.