Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh explains the reason behind Graeme Lee sacking and the timing of the decision

Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh has revealed the reason behind Graeme Lee’s sacking and the timing of the decision in May.

By Joe Ramage
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 5:25 pm

Lee was axed at the Suit Direct Stadium less than 48-hours before the final game of the season against Colchester United which left many puzzled by the decision after he had guided the club to safety in the League Two table.

Lee won 10 of his 32 games in charge, 11 of 33 should you include Pools’ EFL Trophy victory over Sheffield Wednesday of which he viewed from the stands at Hillsborough while Antony Sweeney remained in interim charge, following his appointment in December but was denied adding to that total in the final game of the season against Colchester.

In his place, Sweeney and Lee’s assistant Michael Nelson took charge as Pools’ poor form continued with a 2-0 defeat.

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Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh has explained the decision behind Graeme Lee's exit. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

And while that poor form, which saw Lee’s side claim just one win in their final 12 games of the season, is what ultimately led to the decision being made by Pools owner Singh, the decision not to afford Lee the final game against the U’s was not the chairman’s.

“I know it’s been out there and people have questioned why we didn’t wait until the end of the season, but the idea was to give Graeme the opportunity to take charge of the last game of the season and for him to say his farewells if he wanted to,” Singh told The Mail.

“He chose not to. So that’s why it made the decision look odd, if you like.

Singh added: "You always want stability. But results weren't happening at the back end of the season so it was decided that a change was needed.”

(Left to right) Chief Operating Officer Stephen Hobin, Manager Paul Hartley, Chairman Raj Singh and Assistant Manager Gordon Young photographed in the Suit Direct Stadium. Picture by FRANk REID

Speaking after his exit, Lee posted a message to supporters where he admitted the decision ‘hurt’ but that he would reflect on his time in charge at the Suit Direct Stadium as a success.

“I’ve had a bit of time to reflect and I’m not going to lie, it hurts,” wrote Lee.

“I look at my time as a success and I’m proud of what I achieved in my short time.

“When I took the job, the team had just had five defeats in a row. The target was keeping the club in the league.

Graeme Lee was sacked as Hartlepool United manager before the final game of the season against Colchester United. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

“April wasn’t good enough but lots of factors come into the last six weeks.

“It hurts as I know I would have taken us forward and had plans in place to build a squad to challenge at the top end of the league next season.

“I’m gutted I never got the chance but wish the club every success going forward.”

That opportunity however now lies with new boss Paul Hartley who Singh was keen to stress ‘was not approached’ while Lee remained in the job and although it took longer than anticipated, the Pools chief is pleased to have gotten his man.

“I think it’s been well documented that negotiations took a little bit longer than they should have or what we would have liked,” Singh told The Mail.

“In an ideal world we’d have liked it to have been done in the first week when Graeme left, but it doesn’t always work like that.

“But as long as we got there in the end.”