TMH 2014 “bitterly disappointed” after takeover collapses as IOR seek new investment in Hartlepool United

Hartlepool United chairman Ken Hodcroft
Hartlepool United chairman Ken Hodcroft

THE proposed takeover of Hartlepool United by TMH 2014 has collapsed - with owner IOR now searching for new investment in the club.

Ken Hodcroft will remain as chairman at the Sky Bet League Two club with Russ Green staying as chief executive after the sale fell through.

Hartlepool United Chairman Peter Harris. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool United Chairman Peter Harris. Picture by FRANK REID

The Mail understands IOR and club officials had become increasingly concerned about the proposed new owner’s plans for Pools and pulled the plug on the deal at the eleventh hour.

That is despite TMH (The Monkey Hangers) 2014 gaining Football League approval, which includes passing an owners’ and directors’ test and providing proof of funds, subject to some further provisions.

IOR decided against going ahead with the takeover and released a short statement confirming the deal was off.

The club’s hierarchy are now looking for new investment in the club while manager Ronnie Moore - who was appointed by TMH - insists it is business as usual for his players as they look to claw back the seven point gap to safety.

The takeover was first announced on December 16 but while TMH 2014 waited for Football League approval Hodcroft and IOR remained in charge and have been bankrolling the club and funding the players signed during the January transfer window.

The Mail had revealed earlier in the week that the takeover - spearheaded by incoming chairman Peter Harris - was no further forward and in serious jeopardy.

The short statement released by the club said: “IOR and Hartlepool United announce that the proposed sale of IOR’s shareholding in the club to TMH 2014 Limited is no longer proceeding.

“Ken Hodcroft remains chairman and Russ Green continues as CEO.

“The club will not be making any further comments.”

The Mail understands contracts were exchanged in mid-December for control of the club and a share purchase agreement (SPA) was agreed and signed with a date set for everything to be finalised by January 31.

On that date the Football League confirmed TMH 2014 had been approved subject to some additional provisions.

The agreement date on the SPA could have been extended but IOR said they hadn’t met the deadline and pulled out.

A source close to TMH has told the Mail that they are “bitterly disappointed” the deal has fallen through and that they still wanted to complete the deal but IOR and the club have decided not to go ahead with it.

The source said: “TMH are disappointed that when the SPA ran out on Saturday, even though they had confirmation from the Football League that they were accepted as suitable to take over subject to further provisions, that IOR and HUFC decided not to extend the long stop date which would have allowed them to complete.

“A lot of time, effort and money has been wasted to achieve very little.

“We wish the manager, the team, the staff and of course the supporters the best of luck for the season.”

Harris was named as the new chairman on the day the takeover was announced but had kept a low profile in recent weeks and despite being named as chairman in the matchday programme and on the website, he hadn’t written a column for the Plymouth Argyle match and didn’t attend the game.

It is understood representatives from TMH 2014 were asked to take a step back from the club while the process was ongoing but that they were not banned from the ground.

But with the takeover now fallen through, the Clarence Road club is looking for new investment.