Who will stay and who will go? Pools' player contract situation revealed
Administration talk, takeovers, managerial changes and a season which ranks as the worst in Hartlepool United's history.
Put simply, this campaign has had it all, bar, it has to be said, any semblance of joy.
National League safety has been secured and Raj Singh has swept in to sure things up off the park for the first time in a long time, but still uncertainty reigns supreme at Victoria Park.
One big question, apart from who will, if anyone, replace Matthew Bates at the helm, is which players will remain on the books next season.
Here we take a closer look at the contract situation at Pools.
ONE YEAR LEFT
A number of the current squad will be here no matter what. Well, of course, unless the new manager decides to get rid of them in the close season.
Those with deals running past the end of the season are made up of a number of recent signings and a whole host of others, many of whom are youngsters.
Craig Harrison signing Louis Laing is one player who signed a two-year deal when he put pen to paper last year.
At times this season he has looked the real deal, but on the odd occasion his lack of concentration has cost Pools dear and he has a lot to prove moving forward.
Another with a lot to do to win over fans is Jack Munns, who has another year, as well as Ryan Donaldson, who is one of the club’s highest earners.
Scott Loach is another who is here to stay. He loves the club and despite a few errors of judgement, mostly on crosses, he has been Pools’ player of the season so far.
His character is unquestionable, too. A future full-time skipper in the making.
Youngsters Aaron Cunningham, who returned from injury last weekend with a bang, Ryan Catterick and Kenton Richardson all have 12 months left at the Vic, while defender Scott Harrison is another who is set to stay on, despite the attempts of former manager Harrison to get him out the door in January.
Star of the show Josh Hawkes also has another year left. But having been scouted extensively by Sunderland and Newcastle United in recent months, this might just mean the talented kid leaves for a fee, rather than just compensation this summer.
OUT OF CONTRACT
Three of the Pools first-team pool are out of contract this summer and it’s fair to say the trio have all been key members of both Harrison and Bates’ sides this campaign.
Top-scorer Michael Woods’ goals have probably kept the club in this division.
His improvements in the finishing department have seen him look every bit a Football League player. And there is little doubt that is where he is heading this summer, having seen his hopes of a switch back in January quashed by those at the top at Pools.
Stevenage were very keen on him in the winter window.
Devante Rodney and Liam Donnelly are both out of contract and unlikely to renew this summer.
Rodney is not everyone’s cup of tea but someone will no doubt take a risk on the kid, who is still very raw.
And Donnelly will not be short of takers, with a number of club’s north of the border showing an interest in the versatile Northern Ireland Under-21 skipper.
Should, as expected, either of the above duo leave Pools would be due development compensation. In the case of Donnelly it could be reasonably high, although Fulham will also get a chunk of any decided fee.
ONE YEAR OPTIONS
A number of players are understood to have triggers in their deals that could see them stay.
Some are performance related while others have options on the club and player’s behalf. This kind of detail is, of course, confidential.
But it is understood skipper Carl Magnay, left-back Blair Adams, striker Jake Cassidy, midfielders Nicky Featherstone, Lewis Hawkins and Luke George as well as the useful Rhys Oates all have the option to stay beyond this season.
It remains to be seen whether any will exercise the option to remain after a season of upheaval on and off the park.
Adams was interesting League Two Barnet in January and could be offered an escape route this summer, while Oates continues to be watched by a number of Football League clubs.