COUNCIL bosses say they are prepared to consider a “realistic offer” from Hartlepool United for the sale of Victoria Park as club officials confirm they are looking to continue negotiations.
Pools chief executive Russ Green said the “ongoing saga” remains one of the biggest issues facing the Sky Bet League Two club and said he hoped to continue negotiations with owners Hartlepool Borough Council.
Mr Green said the club is worth £5.5m to the town’s economy but said that could be higher, if the club was in charge of its “own destiny”.
Council officials say discussions are ongoing and they have confirmed if the club came forward with a “realistic offer”, they would consider it.
The future of The Vic, which the club currently leases from the council for around £18,000 a year, was initially a major part of the Mill House Master Plan scheme.
In May 2012, former elected mayor, Stuart Drummond, said he was in favour of transferring the ground to the club for free as part of the wider regeneration plans but since then there has been a new system of governance at the council, with a new committee system of councillors. The ground is valued at around £625,000.
Mr Green, speaking in the programme for the Rochdale match at the weekend, said: “If we are to progress the football club, we must own the ground and be able to demonstrate to investors that the club has potential off the field.”
Mr Green added: “The football club has to become the hub of the town with many organisations now using the club on a daily basis and can be improved even further if we can agree with the council the actual sale and improve the facilities to a new level.
“We hope to continue the negotiations with the council and we can then move forward. The alternative does not bear thinking about.”
A council spokesman said: “We continue to have discussions with the football club and indeed we met with it again on Tuesday of last week.
“We recognise that the club is an asset to the town and if it came forward with a realistic offer to purchase the ground, provided its proposals complemented the council’s masterplan for Mill House and the surrounding area we would be prepared to consider the offer.”