Pitch battle: Row rumbles on over sale of Hartlepool football ground

Victoria Park
Victoria Park

THE war of words is continuing between Hartlepool United and the Borough Council over the sale of Victoria Park.

The exchange started when Hartlepool United bosses took part in a Q&A session with the Mail, with subjects covered including the sale of Pools’ ground, which is owned by the council.

The latest comes after Hartlepool United claimed the local authority is “procrastinating” over the sale of Victoria Park, with chief executive Dave Stubbs insisting the football club had “never” placed an acceptable offer.

Now Pools has accused the council of “political vote-winning waffle” over a statement that the council is committed to preserving Victoria Park as a football ground in the future.

There two are in a dispute over a piece of land to the north of the ground, which the club claims it was promised several years for free and the council says was a factor in the rejection of a previous bid.

The statement from Hartlepool United said: “HBC still do not realise the effect they are having on the development of the club and appear to want to ensure its demise and/or IOR to leave.

“They have misjudged the situation and failed to support the football club since promises were broken, but HUFC have honoured all commitments (and more) and brought a value of income into the town of £5m per annum, according to an independent report.

“All the council has been able produce to date is a letter referring to an increase in rent to be back dated. Such a letter to a club which loses money shows that HBC are not on the Club’s wavelength nor understand the club’s economic situation. HBC’s statement that, ‘The council is also committed to preserving Victoria Park as a football ground in the future’ is political vote-winning waffle.

“If HBC really want to ensure the future of HUFC they should be doing all they can to let HUFC own its land at a realistic price so it can continue to function as a football club without getting into more debt by having to pay an unrealistic price for the ground to put into to the council’s loss-making coffers (and want to charge HUFC for land to the north that is due FOC to HUFC).”

In response, Dave Stubbs, chief executive of the council, said: “There is nothing new in Hartlepool United FC’s latest attack on the council.

“Its statement contains a series of claims and accusations that have been aired in the past and shown to be without foundation.

“The fact is the club has never met our valuation of Victoria Park – despite our willingness to negotiate a sale.

“The council fully understands and acknowledges the value of a successful football club to the town, and nothing would please us more than to see a prosperous Hartlepool United FC move away from the bottom of the league.

“If ownership of the ground is the key to such prosperity, then it is time for the club to end the current impasse by making a realistic offer and entering into meaningful negotiations.”