Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh on budgets and playing catch-up ahead of new League Two season

Chairman Raj Singh doesn’t feel like Hartlepool United have got ‘much catching up to do’ despite having just four first team regulars contracted for the 2021-22 League Two campaign as it stands.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 3:45 pm

Many of Pools’ League Two rivals are returning to pre-season training just over a week after Dave Challinor’s side secured a dramatic promotion back to the Football League.

Hartlepool have since published their retained list which confirmed Gavan Holohan, David Ferguson, Joe Grey, Brad Young, Josh MacDonald and Tom Crawford were contracted beyond the summer.

MacDonald didn’t play a single minute of National League football last season and has been transfer listed while goalkeeper Young is set to join Premier League side Leicester City.

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Hartlepool United owner Raj Singh celebrates with the trophy after winning the shoot-out and promotion after the Vanarama National League play-off final at Ashton Gate, Bristol (photo: Nigel French)

Timi Odusina and Mark Shelton have extension options that will keep them at Victoria Park for another year. Those two, plus Holohan and Ferguson are the only players Pools have contracted who featured in their successful play-off run.

The club have also offered new deals to Gary Liddle, Jamie Sterry, Rhys Oates, Nicky Featherstone, Ben Killip and Luke Molyneux – most of which have attracted serious interest from other EFL and National League clubs.

As it stands, Pools are yet to confirm a new signing or contract ahead of the upcoming season but the chairman insists there is nothing to be concerned by.

“There is a bit of a disadvantage being in our position in terms of planning where we didn’t know if we’d be planning for League Two or another promotion push in the National League,” Singh said.

“The first three or four weeks, not a lot happens because all of the agents and players are weighing up their options, hanging out for better deals and playing clubs against each other so in that respect I don’t feel like we’ve lost a great deal of time.

"Even though other League Two clubs have a head start on us, I don’t feel we’ve got that much catching up to do.”

On Pools’ budget for the upcoming season, Singh told BBC Radio Tees: “The financial impact is well documented, it’s in the region of £1 million plus in terms of league payments.

"The budget will go up but the [running] costs are going to go up.

"I’d rather do that than be stuck in the National League for another year!”

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