Honesty and integrity key to Hartlepool’s future - new chief executive Mark Maguire explores his Pools vision

Hartlepool United's new chief executive Mark Maguire.
Hartlepool United's new chief executive Mark Maguire.

Honesty and integrity must become the cornerstones of Hartlepool United Football Club - that’s the vision of Pools’ new chief executive Mark Maguire.

And under the former Chester and Stockport County chief’s watch, he hopes Pools can build the platform, behind the scenes, for the football club to thrive on and off the park.

Maguire speaks to the local press yesterday

Maguire speaks to the local press yesterday

The club's reputation when it comes to honesty and integrity has taken a battering over the last few years.

From the lack of transparency when it comes to delivering details of accounts on time, to paying the correct bills at the correct times, the club have admitted to breaching FA regulations, have had winding order after winding up order - Pools have called ‘house’ in the incompetence bingo in recent times.

Hartlepool open to ideas to mark passing of Neale Cooper

Pools came within days and hundreds of pounds of collapse due to a string of naive decisions, of which current incumbent Raj Singh, with the help of Jeff Stelling, Maguire and director of football Craig Hignett, is now picking up the pieces.

Maguire wants Pools to break free of all of that.

And he has already got the ball rolling on a number of key commercial, football and business decisions, which will help bridge the financial gap which almost led to this proud football club ceasing to exist.

The finer details on a number of positive moves on and off the park are being sorted and it is set to be a busy few weeks at Pools, according to Maguire.

Whatever happens from now on in, will always be done for the best of the football club, and with the intention of helping Pools grow not on as an institution, but also as a brand and a pillar of the community.

Pools new boy sold on Victoria Park switch after hearing Matthew Bates’ pitch

“I’m thrilled to be here. The room for improvement is huge here and an opportunity to turn it around is exciting,” he said of his appointment.

“There’s a great team of staff here who are desperate to see the club ran the right way and have been frustrated by events over the last couple of years.

“The chance to help them and see justice done to the investment by the chairman and Jeff Stelling is an incredible opportunity.

“It’s a challenge, a huge one. There’s so much to improve.

“We have a fantastic chairman with a point to prove in taking a football club to a higher level, supported by Jeff and helped by Craig Hignett and Matthew Bates who have formed a great partnership already.

“We have staff here who are steeped in the history and working together in an honest way we are challenging each other on a day to day basis and I can see things improving very quickly.”

Whatever Maguire intends to achieve during his time at Pools, he knows he cannot get anything done without the support of the staff at the Vic.

This was a major issue under the previous regime, with staff with decades of service feeling alienated from the club they worked so hard to help build.

Maguire understands the value in getting those around him, the players and the fans onside, if success is to be achieved short and long term.

“I want the fans to understand the quality of people they have behind the scenes here,”

“I have been blown away by it. They need challenging as a group of people by me to make sure they help improve this business. People hate people like me talking about football as a business but that is the way it has to be run.

“The fans have already demonstrated what they are about and it will be a case of watching and waiting to see the way we do things.

What type of player is Matthew Bates looking to sign this summer? The manager talks transfers and player traits

“I promised the owner and Jeff (Stelling) that I would look after their money as if it were my own.

“I have promised them that I will deliver success off the pitch and give the football side of things, on the pitch, a platform to deliver.

“We have some fantastic characters on that side of the business ready to take us forward.

“The fans can start to trust the honesty and integrity of what we are doing, after a series of false dawns.

“We can make this a fantastic place for everyone to be, apart from for the opposition. And that’s the way it should be.”

Matthew Bates discusses his relationship with Hartlepool United director of football Craig Hignett

At any football club success on the pitch can hide a multitude of sins off it - that’s the case up and down the land, from the top flight right into non-league.

When things are going well people are willing to overlook decisions taken off the park, but when things turn sour, every call is poured over with a microscope.

Maguire wants to make sure everything is in place off the field, so all the players and football staff have to worry about is what is happening on it.

It is some time since the players at this club have been able to say that.

“The work I’m doing now should have started three or four months ago,” Maguire revealed.

“Priority number one was to get the season ticket campaign under way, which we’ve done and the response so far has been fantastic.

“Priority number two was the commercial strategy and getting back in contact with all prospective commercial partners.

“And then it’s about supporting the football side of the business, Craig and Mathew are beavering away to recruit players.

“We need to get everyone in an understanding of what we can d and how we’re going to do it and to provide the platform for the football side to perform come the new season.

“I like the fact there is an open dialogue between everyone every single day, challenging each other with the thoughts and ideas they have.

“We are supported by an owner who is prepared to employ professional people around him to take the club in the right direction.

“Perhaps that’s the thing that’s been missing.”

So, how did Maguire end up at the Vic?

He says it’s a case of getting a reputation as bit of a crisis management expert.

“I was in the process of leaving Chester and aware of a significant crisis here. I met people here on occasions and I rang and offered to help,” he said.

“I came to see what was being put together and I saw a business plan being put together for prospective owners, which wasn’t as attractive as it could be. So I took the opportunity to do it again and I had meeting with the now chairman and he offered me the chance to join.

“It all started for me whenI moved from the hospitality business into the madness of football, initially into Stockport County, which is my club, for my sins.

“I dealt with the highs and lows there of promotion through the play-offs into League One to the reality to a very difficult financial situation which we had to tackle and ended in administration.

“That was heartbreaking at the time and from there I was head-hunted by Hull City, probably because they had a financial crisis and had to deal with that situation there.

“That was a case where the club was facing liquidation but managed to get through that and ultimately see them into new ownership and work with those owners for a period of time.

“My next job was at Chester and that was to very much put a commercial edge on a fan-owned business.

“Ultimately in January, as as their want, they decided to go in a slightly different direction and run the club by committee which made my position redundant.

“It was with a heavy heart I left them but then an opportunity came very quickly to come to what is a fantastic football club.”