Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh's stark admission on the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on National League clubs

Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh fears that several non-league clubs could go out of business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh.Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh.
Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh.

The National League season has been cancelled with no set return date which has plunged clubs into uncertainty without any matchday income for the foreseeable future.

The Pools chairman has had to make several cuts in order to reduce losses and help sustain the club.

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“It’s testing times but you’ve got to battle on and come out the other end, hopefully,” Singh told BBC Radio Tees Sport.

“We’re in the same boat as everybody else in the National League, there’s quite a bit of uncertainty. Even though we know the season has finished at the same time, we don’t know when the next season is going to start.

“Things like sending out renewals for season tickets etcetera, that’s all up in the air so there is a number of clubs who are going to struggle.

“I think the writing is on the wall really and I think some clubs are going to really struggle and ‘go to the wall’ really.”

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Every National League club was set to receive a £58,333 advance payment from the Premier League to support them during the uncertain spell.

But Singh felt it was something of a hollow gesture as Pools turned down the advance.

“There was a mention of Premier League help for National League clubs but all that was just an advance [payment] so if you take that money now, which we haven’t incidentally, then all you’re doing is using money that you would have got in August," he added.

Pools have furloughed the majority of players and staff while others have been made redundant – a decision the chairman has defended.

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“Some of the changes that we have made and some of the redundancies would have happened anyway because we couldn’t have sustained the losses that we got as a non-league club,” Singh added.

“In fact, I don’t think we’ve really got on top of it since we’ve been out the league which has been three seasons now.

"Nobody can sustain losses at the level that we’ve been making. The accounts have been filed so anyone can look to see the amount of money I’ve had to put in over the last two years.

“I’m £2.1, 2.2 million at the moment and that can’t happen because we’ve only had two seasons so the cuts had to be made with or without coronavirus, it’s just thrown more uncertainty into the pot so we’ve got to take it week by week and month by month.

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“One thing I don’t want to do is what happened with John Blackledge who was using a serious amount of money and just turned around and said ‘look I can’t afford to put any more money in so that’s where we are’.

“I’m not trying to panic people, it’s all about keeping our eye on the ball and managing things overall.”