Hartlepool United takeover is OFF after Chris Musgrave withdraws interest

Hartlepool United's proposed takeover is OFF.

Tuesday, 23rd January 2018, 3:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd January 2018, 3:50 pm
Victoria Park, home of Hartlepool United.
Victoria Park, home of Hartlepool United.

Hartlepool-born businessman Chris Musgrave has been in talks to buy cash-strapped Pools but he has released a statement to confirm he is withdrawing his interest.

Musgrave was keen to keep a low profile but has now come forward to reveal he was the local businessman in talks with Pools bosses.

He said the financial challenges facing the National League club are "serious indeed" and he has not been able to identify the exact amount of cash that would be required to make available to save the club.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Musgrave says he is not prepared to "sign blank cheques". Pools are at threat of administration with the club needing to find £200,000 by January 25.

A statement from Chris Musgrave read: "Some weeks ago, I was approached by Christopher Akers-Belcher, the Leader of Hartlepool Council, to consider the prospect of buying Hartlepool United Football Club, so that it could be saved from financial ruin.

"It was clear to me that the Leader of the Council and his officials, intended to do everything possible to secure the long term future of the club, due to its social and economic importance to the town.

"On that basis, I agreed to entertain the possibility of purchasing the enterprise, providing the financial challenges were such, that I could accurately estimate the financial sum I would be required to inject into the club.

"I know very little about the game of football and I am not a football enthusiast, but I do understand the importance of the club to the town, as it has been an integral part of the community for over 100 years.

"It would be a sad day for Hartlepool, if such a vital asset was lost. No one wants to see that happen and I have been impressed with the spirit of the supporters and wider public in their efforts to save the club.

"I have had the good fortune to have been successful in business, for over 35 years and I do have substantial experience in making loss making businesses - profitable.

"Over the past two weeks, I have held meetings with officials of the Football Club, the Council and other parties, which has allowed me to interrogate the historical decision making of Executives of the club, with regard to the financial position in particular.

"I have concluded, that the financial challenges facing the club are serious indeed, but I have not been able to identify the exact amount of cash I would be required to make available to save the club. It has therefore been impossible for me to prepare a financial rescue package or a plan to deal with the long term, which is disappointing.

"No one has ever made money out of this club. That was never my intention and I was prepared to provide finance to the value of over £1.5m, but I am not prepared to sign blank cheques, with no end in sight.

"As it stands, I do not intend to provide any funds to the Football Club, for reasons within this statement, but I do hope the club will saved."

Musgrave was the seventh interested party to sign a non-disclosure agreement and provide proof of funds to the tune of £3million.

Informal talks started a few weeks back but only escalated in the last week.

Gill Alexander, the Chief Executive of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: "The council has long recognised the importance of a successful football club to the town and the local economy.

"For that reason we have been working closely with Mr Musgrave in the hope that the club could be saved. We are disappointed that this does not appear possible at this stage, however we fully understand the reasons behind this decision.

"It has been amazing and humbling to see how football fans in the town and far beyond have come together in recent days to raise thousands of pounds and the council itself will continue to do everything it can to support and try to secure a long term future for the club."