A NEW era has begun at Hartlepool United and with it comes fresh hope that perhaps the club can stay up this season after all.
Has there ever been a more dramatic day at Hartlepool United? It is hard to think of one in the modern era when such major changes have all happened within the space of a few hours.
First, news emerged overnight that the club could be set for a dramatic takeover with IOR – who had been at the helm for 17 years at Victoria Park – ready to sell.
So it proved with TMH 2014 Limited confirmed as the club’s new owners yesterday afternoon.
Ken Hodcroft has gone but chief executive Russ Green remains with Peter Harris coming in as the new chairman of Pools.
Now, at this early stage, little is known about Harris or TMH 2014 Limited but with the new owners set to meet the media this morning all should become a little clearer.
What we do know is that TMH 2014 Limited are Warwickshire based and the company was only set up on December 10.
The first question on fans’ lips will be how much money is new manager Ronnie Moore going to be given to spend when the January transfer window opens?
That, of course, was the second big piece of news coming from the corridors of Victoria Park.
Moore, the experienced old hand that many fans had been calling out for, had been officially confirmed as the third manager of a turbulent campaign.
He emerged as the favourite after his appearance at Burton Albion on Saturday when he sat through the whole match making a book full of notes as he watched Pools slump to a 4-0 hammering.
Now though, in every sense of the word, there is a clean slate at Pools.
A clean slate for those under-performing players who must surely be pumped up for the relegation dogfight after yesterday’s major shake-up.
Jobs are on the line after all and Moore will not shy away from making big decisions or scattering those players not up to the fight.
A clean slate for the club itself.
Pools fans have a lot to thank IOR for, in the early years especially the play-off years, culminating in the League One final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium back in 2005 and of course two promotions.
But investment had dipped alarmingly in recent years, and following relegation to League Two in the summer of 2013, relegation out of the Football League has become a very real – and frightening – possibility.
Relations had soured between Hodcroft and the supporters to a poisonous extent and something had to give.
That was evident in the responses to the 10 questions we put to the club over a number of issues.
The tone and manner of the answers from Hodcroft were alarming with the former chairman again refusing to commit to the future long-term.
But nobody expected new owners – who must have deep pockets to sustain the £1million-plus it costs to run the club each year – coming in quite so soon despite rumours of the club being touted for sale behind the scenes for the past couple of years.
Since the news broke, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive from supporters and the new owners have been making all of the right noises too.
Harris said the first aim is to bring in a new manager. Less than two hours later. in came Moore, who they have said they will back to help secure the league status.
Almost as important is the need to re-connect with the fans. For too long, Pools had been a closed book under the previous regime, with fans having to make do with short statements coupled with the usual caveat that “the club will not be making any further comment at this time”.
Well, it appears that is about to change with the new owners keen to rebuild and strengthen links with supporters, while also starting afresh with Hartlepool Borough Council.
They talk of “engaging” with supporters groups and the local authority for the benefit of the town.
Music to the ears of Pools fans and something they hope will happen.
On the announcement of the takeover, Harris said: “We see this as an opportunity to build and enhance the reputation of the club.”
That reputation has been tarnished in recent years and in recent weeks and months the club has become a laughing stock.
Let’s hope Pools have turned a corner, that the defeat at the weekend really was rock bottom and that this squad – together with some much-needed new additions – have what it takes to climb the league. To stay up from this current position is a huge ask but not an impossible one.
There seemed to be no hope at the start of the week yet a little faith has been restored and the squad now need to build on the momentum gained off the pitch this week when Oxford United come visiting.
Victoria Park will be bouncing at the weekend – helped by the cut-price tickets – with everyone supporting the new manager and owners.
Now it is up to the players to show us what they are made of. What a difference a day makes.