Craig Hignett reveals his Hartlepool United dream as manager explores National League hybrid

Craig Hignett is refusing to give up on his idea of a Hartlepool United hybrid next season - with a squad built up of full-time AND part-time players.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 11:29 am
Manager Craig Hignett (left) brought in part-time player Nicke Kabamba, who netted seven goals in 17 games for Pools (Shutterpress).

The manager has been working on a framework which could see players come to the Super 6 Stadium on part-time contracts to complement, not replace, the full-time model which is set to remain in place.

And while the manager has encountered a number of problems with the concept, which has worked at other, lesser clubs to some extent, he is not letting the concept go without a fight.

He explained: "It’s a difficult one but i'm determined to try it at some point.

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"I’m convinced there is a way of doing it.

"I'm not giving up on it - it’s alright having all these questions and thinking what might happen, unless you do it, you don’t know what is going to happen."

A number of changes would have to be made at Pools to implement the idea, with training likely to be moved to evenings, at least two days a week.

This, Hignett understands, is not something that may be easy to convince players to adopt.

"It has to be the right player, or the right players, to try and get the lads to train twice a week," he said.

"Maybe we could do it early evening - ultimately, though, that's the club's decision, not the players - the dog wags the tail, not the other way round."

Getting players who can fit into the requirements of a full-time club could also prove problematic, so too squad unity.

"Some of it might be trial and error," Hignett explained.

"We might find it doesn’t work because of this or that - like lads can’t be shift workers, what happens if we travel on a Friday? All that stuff needs to be thought about.

"The part-time lads might do well, but what if the lads they aren’t doing well? Some of the full-time lads are getting paid the same as the part-time lads, how does that affect it all?

"So there is loads and loads of stuff that. What if they get injured and they are working how do they come in and have treatment?

"I’ll keep ironing stuff like that out and someone will throw in something else, what happens to we pay them 44 weeks? Does that appease the full-time lads or do the part-time lads ask why they aren't getting paid all the time because they are at the same club, there’s loads, it’s stuff that you’ve never even thought of that comes up."

Changing mindsets with pros and part-timers is the only way the concept could work, according to Hignett.

Players and fans have to be as willing as the staff to buy into the idea.

"The mindset has to change, it’s got to be a different way of thinking about things," he said.

"Are you giving the impression that you are going to go part time? The truth is a million miles away from that. We are not going part-timer, we just might sign a select few part-time players.

"It's all about the perception. How do you iron out all the problems? I think it can work but until we go into it we do not know if it is going to make more problems than it’s worth."

The idea is, of course, nothing new.

It is, though, something new for a club like Hartlepool.

"I’ve seen part-time teams who’ve gone full time and kept some of the part time players," said Hignett.

"But that is going the other way isn’t it? And that’s easy.

"When you’ve got a club like us, we’re a professional club, we’re a full time club, I think the perception of the fans will be that we are moving part-time and the perception of the players as well, the full time players, who we are talking to all the time.

"So if i’m trying to recruit players and they are saying when do you train and I’m saying Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, Thursday night, it might make them wonder.

"The ideal type of part-time player we'd be looking for would be someone who is self-employed and can come in during the day, but the idea is constantly evolving, I keep thinking about different things all the time with it."