Hartlepool United has been put up for sale – just six months after a change of ownership.
Owner John Blackledge, of Sage Investments, has decided he has taken the club as far as he can after assuming control from Gary Coxall and recruitment firm JPNG in June.
A number of financial problems have since been uncovered by chief executive Pam Duxbury, responsible for the day-to-day running of the club, prompting Pools to release a statement.
And while Mrs Duxbury has implemented a ‘big programme of change’, it has become clear that the club needs fresh investment to cope with relegation into the National League – and to help Pools realise it’s huge potential.
She said: “It’s been hugely difficult, with a lot or legacy issues with the previous regime. I’ve been here almost 12 months now and there’s been a lot of distractions, but we are about halfway through a big programme of change which is a huge positive.
“There’s a lot of plans and developments ready to go, but we just need that new investor to help push it along.
“I think it’s in the statement that the owners have put a lot of money in and it’s at the point they feel they have taken their investment as far as they can.
“It’s in a good place for the right custodian to take over.”
United FC staPlans to develop the Mill House land around Victoria Park for housing and retail remain in place, while a brochure outlining the developments being made at the football club has been circulated to potential buyers.
Staff and players were told of the situation in a series of meetings yesterday,
Mrs Duxbury added. “There’s a lot of love for the club – in the town, nationally too.
“A lot of people look out for the club and I understand how important it is for the staff and town. Staff and players here work tirelessly to keep the club going and the work that goes on in the background is massive.
“People don’t see or understand what goes on behind the scenes – we are working all week for three o’clock on a Saturday to happen.
“Everyone at the club is fully committed to keeping it going and making it a success.
“I’ve been quietly seeking investment and there’s been a lot of interest, for some it’s not been the right fit or the right time and there’s a lot of North-East interest. Hopefully by going public we can attract more interest.
“It’s getting someone with the means to take the club to the next level and get it back to the Football League.
“I’m not from Hartlepool, but I see the club as the heartbeat of the town. It’s of huge importance. I’ve helped to attract more businesses to the club and get more community projects to the club.
“The potential outreach of the club is massive – there’s so much we can do and it’s about making sure we make the most of it.”
A statement released by the club today revealed it has appointed Geoff Cunningham, of Leeds-based law firm Walker Morris, to deal with interested parties.
The statement added: “The club entered new ownership in June of this year and much great work has been done by all at the club to ensure it is run in a more sustainable and transparent manner .
“Upon the change of ownership, the club became aware of a number of legacy issues that have consumed huge financial and human resources.
“The club now believes that they have got to the bottom of these issues and are dealing with them accordingly. The club needs more investment.
“The club has over these past few months spoken to several interested parties, however no firm proposals have been forthcoming, and the club now feels that the net needs to be widened beyond the town to attract the necessary investment required.
“The club would welcome expressions of interest from investors that are serious and committed and to that end the club has appointed Geoff Cunningham, Walker Morris Solicitors to deal with those enquiries.
“Investor enquiries to be directed to Geoff.firstname.lastname@example.org.”