Comment: First signing of the JPNG era must be to tie down Ronnie Moore

Ronnie Moore
Ronnie Moore
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Shortly before 3.30pm on Monday, the news Hartlepool United fans had been waiting all weekend for finally came.

JPNG had been officially unveiled as the club’s new owners.

News that Increased Oil Recovery (IOR) had sold the League Two club was first confirmed on Friday night - but the club didn’t say who to.

SportMail broke the news later that night that JPNG were to become the new custodians of the Clarence Road side but supporters had to wait until Monday afternoon for the official unveiling.

And in the end it was all rather low key. Lessons had been learned from the previous ‘takeover’ in December.

Peter Harris and TMH 2014 were paraded as the new owners before the deal collapsed six weeks later after serious concerns were raised by Ken Hodcroft, IOR & co.

And it certainly appears to have proved a shrewd move.

IOR’s renewed commitment to Pools in the short-term certainly helped retain the club’s Football League status.

And looking ahead, the new owners JPNG have certainly started with good intentions and have been saying all the right things.

They don’t intend to make “wholesale changes”, they want to involve supporters more, matchday ticket prices have been slashed and they have given their full support to Ronnie Moore and Sam Collins.

All sensible intentions.

Crucially two things set this takeover apart, there was no grand unveiling for one, instead the media will first meet with new chairman Gary Coxall on Wednesday afternoon.

But more importantly - the takeover has already been completed. It is a done deal.

All the relevant Football League approvals are in place and the club can move forward straight from the off.

That wasn’t the case with TMH 2014. But we won’t mention them again.

Now is the time for a fresh start at Pools, to build on the momentum gained from last season’s Great Escape and to start the season in a positive manner with a new-look Pools side.

Six signings have already been brought in, with at least three more to come - a couple of wingers, a centre forward and a back-up keeper (likely to be a loan deal) are on the wanted list.

But the first - and arguably most important - signing that the new owners can make is extending the contract of Ronnie Moore.

It is no secret that Moore’s current one-year deal ends in December and after saving Hartlepool United from relegation in spectacular fashion, he will no doubt have his suitors elsewhere in the world of football.

Having spent time out of the game after leaving Tranmere, Moore has been able to rebuild his reputation in some style at Pools.

He promised big changes at the club this pre-season and he has delivered.

Six players were released, with six new faces brought in.

All good, experienced signings, who are of a good age and keen to do well at Pools.

And to a man, they all mentioned Moore’s influence as a key reason behind them joining.

So, the best piece of business that the new owners could do is to tie Moore down to a longer contract. That is vital.

Some Pools supporters are cautious about the new owners, given the previous takeover attempt earlier this year, but they are, at least, an established company with worldwide clients.

The question on the lips of all fans is why buy Pools?

We’ll be asking tomorrow but perhaps a clue is in the statement on their own website.

Coxall said: “We see this as a fantastic opportunity for us to further our brand in the north of England and help progress a very well-run football club.”

They are businessmen after all.

But as long as Moore’s men do the business on the pitch - with the ongoing support of the new owners building on the foundations left by IOR - then everybody will be happy.

This is a new dawn, a brand new era for Hartlepool United.

Let’s hope it is a long and successful one.