Five areas that Hartlepool United need to quickly address after relegation

Padraig Amond is comforted after Hartlepool United were relegated
Padraig Amond is comforted after Hartlepool United were relegated

As the floodlights were turned off at The Vic on Saturday night, the lights went out on 96 years of life in the Football League.

Hartlepool United beat title-chasing Doncaster Rovers but Newport County's late, agonising win over Notts County sealed Pools' League Two fate.

Come August, Pools will be lining up in the National League for the first time in the club's history.

We take a look at five key areas that need addressing quickly following relegation.

Manager's position:

When Dave Jones was finally axed having led Pools to the brink of relegation, the club turned to the Fab Four of Matthew Bates, Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher in a bid to inspire a great escape.

Despite their best efforts, Pools fell short.

It would be a surprise if Bates was handed the reins given he has no management experience - aside from games against Cheltenham and Doncaster - and the National League is as competitive as they come.

While the focus was on keeping the club up, Pools have been working behind the scenes on appointing a new manager since Jones left.

Now Pools know their fate, there cannot be a delay in appointing the new boss.

Pools face a huge summer, with decisions to be made on the retained list and new signings.

And in order to give them the best possible chance of bouncing straight back, appointing the new manager is the number one priority.

Retained list:

Relegation to the National League will see a major summer of change at Pools, with the squad set to be overhauled.

A natural mix of some out of contract players being released or choosing to move on elsewhere, with the club likely to have to sell other assets following relegation.

One of the first priorities once the season is over is always the retained list and with the club currently without a manager, the need to appoint a new man at the helm is key.

An announcement is expected soon. It needs to be, with big decisions to make on a host of Pools players this summer.

One thing that is clear is the squad that Craig Hignett was allowed to build is too big, packed with average players. A lot of them with non-league backgrounds.

A big summer is in store.

Summer transfer targets:

Just because Pools' Football League fate wasn't decided until the final few minutes of the season does not mean the club is starting on the back foot when it comes to recruitment.

Clearly the new manager will have their own preferences but planning was in place for summer transfer targets for both scenarios; survival or relegation.

Pools will have to act fast in terms of appointing a new manager, sorting out those players the club wants to retain and looking to bring in new faces.

Pools will be a big fish in the National League and an attractive club for a host of players, or at least they should be.

A dominating centre-half, ball-winning midfielder and additional firepower up front the key priorities.

Mind, they were last summer too and the failure to land them is one of the key reasons why Pools were relegated.

Clear strategy to bounce back first time:

Once the dust settles, Pools need to dust themselves down and pull themselves up from the bootstraps.

A clear strategy, with no doubt some tough decisions to make, has to be put in place to give the club the best chance of bouncing back first time.

Clubs that suffer relegation lose a large chunk of the Premier League solidarity payments, and while the Football League parachute payments continue for a season they are cut by 50 per cent in the second season if promotion isn't gained at the first time of asking.

It shows the importance of winning promotion first time.

New chairwoman/chief executive Pam Duxbury outlined the ramifications in a statement last week.

It was the first time fans had heard from her and the statement was one of the more detailed released by club officials in recent years.

The importance of season ticket renewals was stressed, along with income from sponsors and commercial streams.

Also, talks have been held with the Hartlepool United Supporters' Trust with more planned in the coming weeks.

With any relegation, tough decisions will inevitably have to be made and it is crucial the reasons behind them are communicated clearly with fans. Transparency is important.

One thing is clear, if Pools are to bounce back it will need everyone swimming in the same direction.

Get your priorities right:

When the club is battling for its Football League life, the last thing the club should be worrying about is a new badge.

The options were released last week giving supporters the chance to vote. From a personal point of view, there is nothing wrong with the current club crest. Why change it?

Three of the five options resemble the Hartlepool Borough Council logo. Surely the priority has to be getting it right on the pitch. Then everything else falls into place.

The priority has to be appointing a new manager, sorting out the retained list to leave you with a nucleus of a squad and looking to strengthen key areas.

A new badge can wait.