Hartlepool United’s transfer plan twist – bid to land striker and defender boosted

Scott Barrow.
Scott Barrow.

Takeover turmoil at National League rivals Gateshead has boosted Hartlepool United’s chances of landing two of their summer targets.

News of a proposed purchase of the Tyneside outfit by new owners falling through has broken in the last 24 hours – almost certainly ending hopes of Steve Watson’s squad remaining full-time next season.

Heed duo Scott Barrow and Danny Johnson are both on Pools boss Matthew Bates’ transfer radar.

And with both keen to remain in the full-time game, Bates’ hopes of getting a deal done for the duo received a welcome boost, to the detriment of their North East fifth-tier neighbours.

Left-back Barrow, who scored two crackers in the 2-2 Boxing Day draw v Pools at the International Stadium, was understood to be keen to remain at Gateshead, but was waiting on takeover news before committing his future to the club.

Out of contract this summer, the 29-year-old is available on a free transfer. And having settled in the North East, he could be tempted by a Pools offer.

The Mail understands Bates and director of football Craig Hignett have asked to be kept informed of the player’s availability.

The situation is similar with former Pools youngster Johnson, now 25, who has been discussed in the halls of power at Victoria Park.

He has been considered to either work as chief support to transfer-listed Jake Cassidy, or be signed as a direct replacement should a club put in a cash offer for the former Wolves and Tranmere man this summer.

Confirming the news of their plight, Gateshead released the follow statement. It read: “A routine National League “change of ownership” meeting which took place in Manchester last week resulted in the collapse of a potential sale of Gateshead Football Club when the would-be buyers failed to satisfy various aspects of the competition’s requirements.

“Despite being given the opportunity to rectify the shortcomings, the potential buyer decided against pursuing matters further.”

Discussing the matter, current Heed joint owner Richard Bennett said: “I met with the potential buyers following the meeting with the National League and it quickly became clear that they had been withholding important information from us during the due diligence process.

“It’s very disappointing for everyone involved especially given the work that has gone into this.

“First and foremost in our minds is the long-term future of the club and Julie and I have decided to continue our ownership until such time as a credible buyer can be found. Someone who, in our opinion, is right for the club.

“However, we simply cannot afford to continue running the club on a full-time basis in the meantime and regrettably cuts in all areas of expenditure are a necessity.

“Naturally, we’ll look to remain competitive at the highest level of non-league football but we’ll need to become one of a growing number of part-time clubs in the national division. We fully realise that this isn’t the outcome anyone was looking for but we strongly believe it’s important that the town of Gateshead maintains its football club.

“We hope that everyone understands the situation and gets behind the club.”

Meanwhile, Pools will play Spennymoor Town in their final pre-season game of the summer. The fixture will take place at Brewery Field on Saturday, July 21.