Hartlepool United takeover, 12 months on: Pools’ saviour Raj Singh admits 60% overspend in first year
Today 12 months ago, Raj Singh was rolling his sleeves up to get sinking Hartlepool United shipshape having just been confirmed as the new owner, subject to ratification by the National League.
There have been ups and downs at the Super 6 Stadium in the last year, but Singh admits he’s loving every minute of it - even if results could have been better on the park.
The chairman admits he’s spent 60% more than he’d budgeted for in the first 12 months and still looking for fresh investment to make the club sustainable for the long term.
Speaking to The Blue Print, Singh said: “The first year has been very eventful, with a hell of a lot of progress made both on and off the field. I think I have got the right people around me to make this football club a real success and I am always looking for other football-minded or investment-minded people who can come in to benefit the club and help us move towards a longer term, sustainable future.
“One thing I promised myself and the fans was that I would leave this club in a better place than when I came in.
“I think I could leave tomorrow and I think I will have kept that promise.
“I have enjoyed the first 12 months. However, I always set myself high targets so I am pretty sure I will enjoy it a lot more if we can be up there challenging for promotion next year.”
Singh has massively overspent on his planned three-year budget, in just 12 months at Pools.
It is not unexpected though. He explains: “I suppose some fans will ask the question - why have we spent more than we had allowed for? The answer to that is that people in business understand that when you come into a football club, run as badly as this one has been, there are always going to be nasty surprises.
“It’s OK saying that we should have done more due diligence but there is only so much you can do when the clock is ticking and the players need paying for the next month.
“On that note, I am pleased to say we have now cleared up 99.9% of the mess left behind here and I would like to think the club is now on a sound and solid footing as we look to build for the future.”
Singh hinted at disappointment with the Hartlepool United supporters trust over an issue concerning potential investment in the club.
“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,” reflects 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% 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.”