Hartlepool United Supporters Trust respond to Raj Singh's comments over investment
The Hartlepool United Supporters' Trust have responded to comments made by owner Raj Singh concerning a potential investment.
Singh hinted at disappointment with the trust in Saturday's matchday programme, claiming the HUST indicated they could raise £250,000 for the club.
In response to this, the trust released the following statement:
"In the weeks prior to the meeting with Mr Singh, Jeff Stelling, then HUST Honorary President, had been in discussions with HUST around the possibility of being part of a rescue consortium through a community investment. With that in mind we had asked our members for permission to activate our Fundraising Plan. However, based on the information Jeff had available, and such was the mess the club was in, he felt HUST’s priority should be to back the Just Giving Fund set up by Rachel Cartwright and other fundraising initiatives to help keep the club afloat until a buyer was found. On this recommendation we agreed to postpone our fundraising until Rachel’s campaign closed, and then further until after the Wrexham game.
"During the initial meeting with Mr Singh HUST representatives discussed community investment by HUST in a consortium based on similar actions by Trusts at clubs of a comparable size. Unlike investments by individuals, however, most money invested by Supporters’ Trusts is necessarily raised via a community share issue and for a CSI to be a success it must have clear targets. Constitutionally HUST can only invest in return for a sustainable shareholding and reassurances of genuine supporter representation, and obviously only with the permission of the existing shareholders, but we are willing to investigate this further at any time.
"Publicly at the open meeting at the Corporation Club last year Mr Singh said, and Mark Maguire as recently as the Fans Forum in January reconfirmed that no additional external investment is required or being sought. The HUST Board have always been clear that we are happy to discuss community led sustainable equity investment to support Mr Singh at any time and welcome an approach when the time is right.
"We note that any investment of existing funds, or the raising of a community share issue will only be done by majority consent in a vote by HUST members and with the support of experts both locally and at Supporters Direct.
"We wish to make it quite clear that in our opinion without Mr Singh the club would have gone out of business a year ago and we have no doubt that all us fans are thankful for Mr Singh, Jeff Stelling and Craig Hignett stepping in. We continue to offer support to the club, particularly around our offers to host events, and we continue to pursue close engagement with those in charge, while building funds in the background."
In Saturday's programme Singh claimed he has spent 60 per cent over budget since taking over the club a year ago.
Yet despite his claims, Singh made it clear he wasn't having a dig at the trust.
"We had our first meeting in mid-January last year when Craig Hignett, Jeff Stelling and two representatives from the supporters’ trust came to my house to see me,” said Singh.
“For obvious reasons, the initial conversation centred on what financial commitment people were prepared to make and where that would take us.
“Jeff committed to a figure that he was willing to put in, I did the same and the trust indicated they could raise £250,000. Jeff has honoured the figure he mentioned and I would say I am around 60 per cent above what I had initially committed to and we’re not even finished our first full season yet.
“This is by no means a dig at the supporters’ trust by the way, but I think it’s important to understand how the mechanics of a football club operate and how the funding side of things is geared up.
“I know it’s not always the case in some quarters but a lot of the time that’s down to the fact they don’t have the basic information and therefore the understanding to make a true assessment.”