Kicking off: Hartlepool United and council in row over ground sale

NEW ROW: Over Hartlepool United's Victoria Park.
NEW ROW: Over Hartlepool United's Victoria Park.

A FRESH row has broken out between council bosses and the town’s football club over the sale of Victoria Park.

A council chief has issued an angry response to claims by Hartlepool United that the local authority is “procrastinating” over the sale of Victoria Park.

Hartlepool Borough Council, which owns The Vic, has been involved in drawn out talks with Pools over the sale of the stadium in recent years.

Both sides have blamed each other over the failure to reach an agreement, and the row has kicked off once again after comments made by Pools chairman Hodcroft in a recent interview with the Mail.

With Pools currently propping up the rest of the Football League and being dumped out of the FA Cup by part-timers Blyth Spartans in front of a nationwide TV audience, Mr Hodcroft agreed to answer 10 key questions with fans becoming increasingly concerned about the direction in which the club appears to be heading.

And in response to a question about Victoria Park, the chairman pulled no punches in his assessment of the situation.

But the council was quick to respond, with chief executive Dave Stubbs insisting the football club had “never” placed an acceptable offer.

Mr Hodcroft said: “HUFC did ask the council how much they wanted several months ago.

“Unofficially, the club was told a figure. The club offered that figure and it was rejected.

“HBC do not recognise the importance of IOR owning the ground. They have not even offered IOR a draft purchase agreement to review, nor have they accepted HUFC’s previous offers and development ideas.

“Certain council members just don’t want to sell the ground, others do. Some with limited vision would rather have rent for the next 50 years, plus rent increases.

“HUFC have had many plans in the past and have plans for the future, which the council are aware of, but unfortunately the council have procrastinated for so long the opportunity appears to have been missed.”

Mr Stubbs moved quickly to give the local authority’s version of events, and revealed the club had made an offer but had also wanted an extra piece of land included in any sale.

Mr Stubbs said: “Hartlepool United FC has never met the council’s valuation of Victoria Park.

“The club did make an offer for Victoria Park but also asked for a piece of land to the north to be included in the sale.

“As a result, their valuation of the ground fell a long way short of our own.

“It is interesting to note that the club’s response to the question posed by the Hartlepool Mail makes no reference whatsoever to this additional piece of land.

“As we have said previously, we remain open to negotiation on the sale of the ground, but the club must be prepared to table a realistic offer.

“The council is also committed to preserving Victoria Park as a football ground in the future and we would require the club to make the same commitment before negotiations could resume.”