Hartlepool United supporters group say club 'in much worse position than we were led to believe'

Hartlepool United Supporters Trust said tonight news that the club needs to raise £200,000 in the coming weeks or face going into administration is an "incredible state of affairs".

Thursday, 11th January 2018, 7:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th January 2018, 7:25 pm
Hartlepool United's Victoria Park ground.
Hartlepool United's Victoria Park ground.

The club is currently up for sale and needs to find the cash by January 25, in order to cover the players’ wages, as well as those who work behind the scenes at the club.

A number of bills, including a one to the HMRC, must also be covered later this month.

In a statement released earlier tonight, the club underlined the fact that administration is a "very real prospect" should no investor, or consortia, come forward to put money into the Victoria Park coffers.

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It also moved to thank people for their fundraising efforts in recent days.

Now Hartlepool United Supporters Trust (HUST) has released a statement saying that news of the seriousness of the club's financial situation is "incredible" and that HUFC is in a "much worse place" than the trust was led to believe.

The statement reads: "The Board of HUST has noted the recent comments in the press that the football club needs £200,000 in the next two weeks for it to continue trading.

"We would like to go on the record and state that we find this to be an incredible state of affairs given Pam Duxbury has previously stated that operational costs at the club are £120-£130k per month.

"The football club is clearly in a much worse place than we have been led to believe, and we cannot understand why the owners left it so late before formally announcing that the club was for sale, as they have not allowed sufficient time for any such sale to realistically take place.

"We also note that the club have not given any clear indication of how they plan to fund the club in February, which is of grave concern to us, assuming £200k can be raised in January.

"The advice we have been given by Supporters Direct is that HUST should not give money to the current owners of the club whilst we remain in the dark in relation to the finances at HUFC.

"Pam Duxbury has given no indication as to why she needs £200k in such a short space of time, or what it would be spent on were it raised.

"We are mindful of comments she has made recently in relation to legacy debt and fees run up under the previous owners, and we would suggest that the club formally notify fans of where this £200k would be spent, as it is clearly a much higher sum than one month’s operational costs."

The trust also said it has "reservations" about fund-raised money being handed to the current Pools ownership.

"While we are greatly heartened by the ongoing initiatives by fans to raise money, which demonstrates the passion and generosity of both fans locally and further afield, we have reservations about this being handed to the current owners until they have publically given a very precise breakdown of where the money will be spent, and more importantly, how they intend to fund the club for the rest of the season.

"Our preferred option would be for the club to be saved by the arrival of new owners with a sustainable long term business plan, which includes provision of running costs until the end of the season.

"At no point has the Trust advocated the club going into administration and we are working around the clock to avoid this happening.

"In this regard the Board of HUST continue to have dialogue with potential investors and partners, we have important meetings scheduled for the early part of next week and would welcome discussions with any that we have not already spoken with.

"Our goal is that professional football continue to be played in Hartlepool, and we believe we have a viable business plan and access to funding which would help secure the safety of the club should investors be seeking a partnership with us.

"Again we must stress that we would only work with buyers who share our vision to create a sustainable and successful community club, with the intention of returning the club to the Football League."

Owner John Blackledge, of Sage Investments, put Pools up for sale at the end of December.

Six parties showed an initial interest in buying the club but now just two remain.

Both are overseas, have signed non-disclosure agreements and provided proof of funds to the tune of £3million to club solicitors.

Neither have yet made an offer to buy Hartlepool United Football Club from Sage Investments and Blackledge.