Hartlepool United’s promotion chances set to become clearer as NL discuss new proposals

New Hartlepool United manager Craig Harrison at Victoria Park.
New Hartlepool United manager Craig Harrison at Victoria Park.

Hartlepool United will know more this weekend about their promotion chances in the National League.

Pools are looking to bounce back from relegation out of the Football League at the first time of asking, under new boss Craig Harrison.

Promotion from the fifth tier is notoriously difficult – only two clubs go up, one automatically and one via the play-offs.

And the National League will discuss a proposal to change their system for the 2017-18 season when they meet at their Annual General Meeting this Saturday.

Under the current system the clubs finishing second to fifth contest the play-offs in traditional home and away semis, with the winners meeting at Wembley in May.

However, under new proposals, more teams would have the chance to qualify for the play-offs.

At the end of the season, sides finishing second down to seventh will now qualify.

The first round of fixtures will see the teams who finish fourth and fifth host those who finish seventh and sixth in one off games.

Then the winners of fourth v seventh will then travel to the club who finished third, while the winners of fifth v sixth will travel to the outfit who finished second in the table.

All clear so far?

That will then produce two teams who will go on to compete in the play-off Final at Wembley, with the winners going into League Two.

So what sort of impact might the proposed changes have on Pools?

“None I’d like to say,” said Harrison. “We’d like to think we’ll go straight up.

“It’s a long way away [the end of next season].

“At the moment we are building for the season.

“If we are in the mix, we are in the mix, but at the moment it’s about putting building blocks in place.”

Harrison said he favours two sides going up automatically.

“I’m not a believer in play-offs, full stop,” said the 39-year-old.

“Certainly in this league the team who finish second should go up.

“If you finish second then you are second for a reason.

“They’ve played lots and lots of football, lots and lots of games and travelled the length and breadth of the country, they deserve promotion.

“That’s just a personal opinion of mine.”