Hartlepool United chairman reveals ambition to transform Pools into a Championship club

Hartlepool United Chairman Gary Coxall.
Hartlepool United Chairman Gary Coxall.

Hartlepool United chairman Gary Coxall has revealed his ambition to transform Pools into a Championship club.

Pools have never played in the second tier of English football but ambitious Coxall has high hopes for the Clarence Road outfit.

Coxall’s JPNG firm took over from Increased Oil Recovery (IOR) in June, with IOR wiping out £14million worth of debt as part of the deal.

And five months in to JPNG’s reign, Coxall’s levels of ambition and enthusiasm for League Two Pools - who narrowly escaped relegation last year - remain fierce.

Promotion this season seems a remote dream given Pools are 19th, with 20 points from their opening 18 league fixtures.

But confident Coxall insists the long-term plan is for sustained success at Victoria Park.

And in an exclusive interview with the Mail, the 34-year-old has outlined his grand plans.

“There is no reason why we cannot be a Championship club,” revealed Coxall.

“If you look at our fans and the ground - which will be improved - and there will be announcements soon-ish on that.

“We have some crazy ideas, some quirky and some realistic about improving the match day experience, things that no other club does to show how important these fans are.

“But we feel strongly that this is a club that can go places and we will go places.

“It is just a case of timescales.

“We are not saying we want to do ‘an AFC Bournemouth’ in three years, let’s be realistic.

“Lets get through this season and keep developing. If we do that, then we will become a minimum of a League One club.

“But we have to do our hard work too and make sure the club can achieve that.”

Reaching the bright lights of the Championship seem a long way off for those fans just getting over last year’s agonising season-long battle against relegation to the National League.

The appointment of Ronnie Moore last December proved a masterstroke by the previous owners, 
with Moore masterminding safety despite a tricky start to life in the Victoria Park dugout.

Major changes in the summer saw 12 new signings, with nine players leaving.

And four straight wins to start 2015-16 further boosted confidence on the back of the new owners taking charge.

But after a promising start results have dipped, with the club dealt a hefty dose of “realism” in recent months.

Essex-based Coxall added: “We had a massive amount of optimism when we came in as the new owners.

“That optimism then went through the roof after the start we had, winning four games out of four and then there was a massive dose of realism.

“And you have to stop and think ‘Listen, this is going to take work’.

“There has been a couple of things that we can’t change that have happened but we can’t hide behind excuses, saying it is injuries etc.

“At the end of the season we’ll see where we end up, if you finish 15th, then you deserve to finish there.

“We don’t want to get carried away.”

When Coxall and director Peter Goldberg were announced as the new co-owners, they were loathe to publicly state targets for this season.

A push for the play-offs seemed a realistic ambition given the promising start.

But five months in and with Pools struggling for consistency, targets have been reassessed, with Coxall refusing to heap extra pressure on Moore & Co.

Coxall added: “In League Two, anyone can beat anyone.

“We have it within us to go on a five or six-game winning run.

“It is getting that balance right. How do we improve on the optimism from the start of the season without putting too much pressure on the players?

“If we go out and say we are going to get promotion this season, then that is an awful lot of pressure.

“The last thing you need is added pressure on the management team because that filters down, so we have to remain realistic.

“In an ideal world we would be sitting top and nine points clear but we have to be more realistic,” added West Ham - and Hartlepool - fan Coxall.

JPNG are a recruitment firm with offices in Essex, London and Dubai. IOR had previously owned the club for 18 years.