Exclusive: Raj Singh plugs financial gap to keep Hartlepool United youth system alive

New Hartlepool United owner Raj Singh has plugged a financial black hole enabling Pools to commit to their youth setup for at least another 12 months.

Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 5:08 pm
Raj Singh at Victoria Park.

With the club’s financial situation worsening prior to the Middlesbrough businessman’s arrival, fears the academy, which produced the likes of Luke James and Brad Walker, would be cut.

But those at the helm understand the academy’s importance, not only to the club, but also the area and are keen to keep it alive.

Rather than see coaches and kids leave, Singh has decided to dig deep and make sure Pools’ academy setup will continue to operate, under the tutelage of recently re-appointed John Hewitson.

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Youth funding has been significantly cut this summer.

Before relegation from League Two Pools’ academy coaches, etc, were funded by the Football League through a grant.

This was ring fenced last season. The Mail understands it was used to fund the wages of the likes of now manager Matthew Bates, who went between fringe first-team duties and taking the club’s under-23s.

That is understood to have been halved for Pools’ second campaign outside the league, which left those at the top with a difficult decision.

Chop the whole setup or find the cash in the coffers, despite attempting to cut their proverbial cloth to suit.

And Singh, along with director of football Craig Hignett, were in no doubt that Pools should continue to operate as they are.

One issue moving forward is that the funding for 2019/20 will be cut further, leaving an even bigger black hole.

But the Mail has learned the club have already set the wheels in motion to plug that gap, without asking Singh to pump further funds into Victoria Park.

Meanwhile, Hartlepool United have broken through the 1000 mark for season tickets sold ahead of the new campaign.

The club have released a statement detailing Poolie Lee Lodge, alongside his 10-year-old daughter Ava Marie, as the tickets that sent Pools into four figures.

“I try to get to as many games as I can,” said Lodge, who works away.

“I think the free Under 12s tickets are a great way of getting children involved in the club.

“Hopefully by engaging them at such a young age, you’ll make sure they’re all Poolies for life and some may even be future players in the making.”

Tickets are, of course, still available from the club ticket office.

To get season passes cheaper on the early bird offer, they must be purchased before or on Wednesday, July 4.

Tickets bought after this date will increase to full price.

On the early bird offer tickets are priced at £250, which works out at £11 per ticket. Under-12 tickets are free with an accompanying adult season pass purchase. Seniors, students and members of the armed forces can get early bird tickets for just £150 – equating to £6.52 per game.