Hartlepool council chief hopes for ‘positive new era’ at Pools

Dave Stubbs.
Dave Stubbs.

A COUNCIL boss has welcomed new owners to Hartlepool United - and is committed to rebuilding a “positive” relationship with the club.

Hartlepool Borough Council and the club have been embroiled in a bitter battle over the future of Victoria Park, with both sides accusing each other of putting stumbling blocks on any sale of the football ground.

Outgoing chairman Ken Hodcroft pulled no punches in his assessment of the council’s role in the negotiations as recently as last weekend.

But with IOR now having sold up and Mr Hodcroft no longer with the club, the council’s chief executive Dave Stubbs described the sale of the club as “a new era”.

Mr Stubbs told the Mail: “This marks the start of a new era for Hartlepool United Football Club and we look forward to building a positive relationship with the new owners to try and bring success to the club both on and off the pitch.”

Meanwhile, the new owners said in a statement their immediate plans included “engagement with local supporter groups and the local authority so that all parties can work together to the benefit of the club and the town”.

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SportMail quizzed the club’s previous owners about their long-term plans in a Q&A last week, asking what is IOR’s long-term vision for the club and whether they were committed even if Pools are relegated.

The club, making reference to the ongoing issue with Victoria Park again, told the Mail: “IOR always considers its investment and economics of any of its business models.

“The situation with the council is very serious and the club has even hinted to the local MP to take notice, but with no response.

“Until the council sell the ground, then IOR will always evaluate its forward position and decisions, no matter what league the club is in.”

Less than a week later and IOR had sold its stake in the club.

It wasn’t the first time that previous chairman Ken Hodcroft had threatened to pull-out of Pools over the on-going saga with the ground.

Hodcroft claimed the council had failed to support the club and hit out over a plan to re-introduce five-yearly rent reviews, but the council said IOR must make a realistic offer and agree it is only ever used for football purposes.

Hodcroft used his programme notes in October to launch a stinging attack adding that the owners IOR “will not stand much more”.

In his column, Hodcroft said: “HBC are determined to do everything in their power to ensure that this club fails.”

The council hit back at the claims, describing the chairman’s comments as “unwarranted and completely without foundation”.