Craig Hignett set for Pools return and new role as Raj Singh takeover edges closer

Craig Hignett is set to return as director of football at Hartlepool United as part of in Raj Singh's Victoria Park revolution.

Sunday, 18th March 2018, 1:20 pm
Updated Sunday, 18th March 2018, 1:25 pm

And after significant progress over the weekend, hopes are high Singh’s takeover could be completed by next weekend.

Singh and Hignett were sat side-by-side in the stand during Pools’ dramatic late 3-3 draw with AFC Fylde.

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The Mail has learned that Singh will bring former player and manager Hignett back to the Vic, but it will not be as manager.

Instead, Hignett will take on more of a backseat role and for the time being, at least, Matthew Bates will remain in the Pools hotseat after a run of positive performances.

Hignett, who has a long-standing relationship with Singh, has been out of work since he was sacked by Pools’ former chairman Gary Coxall in January 2017.

It was a move that sparked a remarkable turn of events on the pitch, with the appointment of Dave Jones seeing the club spiral towards the League Two relegation zone and then relinquish their place in the Football League for the first time in their proud history.

Raj Singh flanked by Craig Hignett at AFC Fylde on Saturday.

Craig Harrison then attempted in vain to arrest the decline as Pools off-field problems unravelled around him, until his sacking brought Bates back to the fore.

Whether Bates fits into Singh’s plan long-term is another thing altogether.

But at this moment there are no plans to take him out of his caretaker role after securing two draws in his last two National League encounters.

Raj Singh flanked by Craig Hignett at AFC Fylde on Saturday.

Bates is an immensely popular figure within the Pools dressing-room.

The former defender, in his second temporary spell in the dugout, has managed to inject some much-needed confidence into the squad, as well as freedom to express themselves and a level of defensive organisation.

The impact of his coaches - Ged McNamee and Ross Turnbull - cannot be understated, too.

And, at this stage, the Mail understands Singh is not keen to upset the apple cart, especially not with Pools deep in the midst of a battle to beat the drop to the National League North.

Former Darlington chairman Singh’s takeover bid made significant progress over the weekend, having appeared to stall last week.

Face-to-face talks took place between chief executive Pam Duxbury and Singh, and a number of obstacles which stood in the way of the process now appear to have been removed.

No timeframe has been set on the potential takeover but there is a quiet confidence that a deal can get done sooner rather than later.

An announcement could even come before next weekend, as Singh’s bid gathers pace.

Singh, with financial help from Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling, have around £1.2million ready to plough into Pools, but are still keen to get other investors to buy into their three-year plan to make the club self-sufficient.

The Mail understands Singh and Hignett have no plans, at this stage, to attend Pools’ midweek relegation six-pointer against Barrow, who sit one place above Bates’ men in the fifth tier table.