Raj Singh is a 'football nut' who just did not want to see Hartlepool United 'go under' - Craig Hignett
From January until the day Raj Singh unofficially walked through the Victoria Park doors, Hartlepool United was on life support.
With bills to pay, plenty more well overdue, at one point Pools had just £500 left in the bank account.
That is just how close they got to going to the wall.
When former owner John Blackledge decided to pull the plug in November, the cash flow stopped, and Hartlepool effectively retreated from being run as any proper club should. It became a shadow of its former self, scraping by, doing the bare minimum to survive.
Pay who needs it most, do just enough to get games on.
At any point, those in control of the purse strings, what was intact of them anyway, could have turned off the machine. In that scenario administration would have ensued, followed relatively quickly by liquidation and then Hartlepool United would have been no more.
Thankfully, that Doomsday play did not come to pass and we still have a club, the proper Hartlepool, not some second rate phoenix offering, which whatever people say, would never have been the same.
While those who let the club go to rack and ruin have been slaughtered for the complete absence of duty of care, credit for where we are today must go to the fans, and, of course, to Singh.
The former Darlington chief stepped in where plenty of other high-profile, wealthy men in the area feared to tread.
He put his money on the table, rolled the dice and saved Pools.
Singh has already begun the challenging process of making Pools run like a fifth tier outfit, not one working on a League Two budget.
It won’t be easy. After years of decline, arresting that slide towards football and financial ruin was always going to be mammoth task.
For the first time in a long time, though, Pools have someone at the helm who only has the best interests of Hartlepool United at heart. And new director of football Craig Hignett thinks there is no one better to drive this proud football club back to where it belongs.
“He was the only one who was going to come in and save the club,” said Hignett about Singh’s unexpected arrival at the Vic.
“As has been well documented, he feels he has unfinished business
“Raj is a successful businessman, he’ll do things properly, there is no ulterior motive with him. He’s just a football nut who did not want to see a local club go under.
“He has put his money where his mouth is, as has Jeff [Stelling].
“Raj has surrounded himself with people who know what they are doing and they are doing this for the right reasons.”
Baby steps and building blocks.
While many a new owner can be accused of sweeping in making promises galore and mostly failing to deliver, Singh is very keen to play down expectations.
He has the finance to back up another couple of seasons without a return to the Football League, and as a result no pressure, at this stage at least, will be placed on making sure that happens.
It’s all about doing things right, no matter how long they take. Building from the bottom, getting the fundamentals right, then the rest takes care of itself.
“He’s not interested in the developments, or money, or what he can make off the land,” said Hignett on Singh.
“He’s interested in building a football club which can get back in the Football League and making sure in five 10 or 15 years or whenever he laves the football club that whoever comes in will have a club on a sound footing and all they’d have to worry about is having to put a team together, not all the rest of the stuff.
“There are some really good people here who have been treated really badly, have lost their jobs and that’s a real shame.
“We need to change all that.”
Hignett, now working closely with manager Bates on a number of transfer deals in and out, continued: “When someone puts up over one million quid of their own money to save the club, do people need any more convincing?
“The people who aren’t convinced are going to have to see how the club is run.
“The problems the club’s had has been down to poor management.
“No one will be spending money they don’t have and everything will be done for the good of this club, not individuals.”