Hartlepool United stalwart Micky Barron admits the financial woes facing the club is bound to have an affect on the players.
But the ex-defender has called on the squad to produce the goods on the pitch to give the fans and town a much-needed lift and extend the gap between Pools and the relegation zone.
Pools are just 13 days away from potentially going into administration if they don’t find around £200,000 by January 25 to pay player and staff wages plus other bills including a tax bill.
With that would come a 10-point deduction by the National League, which would see them drop into the relegation zone.
Craig Harrison’s side, four places and seven points ahead of Chester FC in the final relegation spot, are not in action until the visit of Wrexham a week tomorrow.
Barron says it is inevitable the dire financial situation and uncertainty over wages being paid will be having an impact but he has called on everyone to pull together.
Ex-player, coach and caretaker manager Barron said: “It is a really concerning situation and of course it will have an affect.
“I know the manager and the players will come out and say it doesn’t affect us once we step over the white line, which is probably true, but before the games if you are struggling to put petrol in your car just to get to games it will.
“That’s what it might be like for some of the players, it will affect them as they will be thinking are we getting paid this week?
“Wives and partners will be asking questions, pressure from people asking questions that you can’t answer.
“It will have an affect so you have to be mentally strong to try and go out onto that pitch and play a game of football without thinking about those things.”
Administration remains a real threat unless fresh investment or new owners can be found.
Barron added: “Clearly, we all hope it doesn’t get to that stage. You have to try and get enough wins now that it makes administration, if that were to happen, just a points deduction and not turn into a relegation battle.
“You have to get those points on board so you can say ‘look, administration isn’t ideal but it won’t affect our position in this division’.
“You don’t want to have 10 points taken off us now and then try and fight your way out of it as it will give other clubs down there a lift.
“As hard as it will be for the coaches, the manager and the players, they have to do everything they can now to lift the town and the fans by the performances on the pitch.
“Hartlepool fans always stick together, this is their club and they will rally round to do everything they can and I know if they said ‘look, you need to raise X amount’ they would look to do that themselves without help from anyone else. They will travel and support as long as you are giving them something to support.
“On the pitch, we need to give the fans a lift. The fans are doing the hard work at the moment in travelling here, there and everywhere.
“The message is we have to stick together and do whatever we can to get the club through this situation.”
Barron, who also worked as youth team coach, reserve team coach and caretaker manager, spent 17 years at the club between 1996 and 2013.
Chester-le-Street-born Barron played 374 times, with IOR and Ken Hodcroft in charge for the majority of his spell.
Barron added: “IOR always got criticised for not pushing a little bit more but that was their structure, they knew what they wanted to do with the football club.
“They knew they wouldn’t overspend and no matter what, there was budgets people had to stick to. It shows now that was the right way to do it. They were never overly in debt. Wages were always paid.
“It was successful but even at the time people criticised them, looking back you can only spend what you have got. You can’t overspend to get you out of a mess.”
The situation facing Pools is bleak and while there is takeover interest from two overseas investors the clock is ticking. “There is a huge amount of potential,” said Barron.
“Pools has a strong fanbase who will travel and put money towards the club. Any potential new owners have to see the positives. Go back ten years, this is how good the club can be.
“Any investor that comes in has to be coming in for the right reasons, to build the club back up. What we don’t want to happen is to drop down the leagues and then really rebuild from the bottom.
“I would take that over not having a club at all but that is worst case scenario. It is fingers crossed time,” added Barron, who took part in a fundraising ‘Legends Night’ with Ritchie Humphreys at The Vic last night.