Increased Oil Recovery had reached the end of the road as Hartlepool United owners – but their love and care helped save the club.
That was the assessment today from Russ Green after the chief executive spoke to SportMail following the takeover of new owners, JPNG Global, this week.
The TMH thing never materialised, thank goodnessRUSS GREEN
It was the second time inside six months that the Aberdeen-based oil company had ‘sold’ Pools.
IOR had done a deal with a Midlands consortium, known as the Monkey Hangers, back in December.
But in January, IOR pulled the plug , claiming it was not in the best interests of HUFC.
What a pivotal decision that looks like being as chairman Ken Hodcroft backed new boss Ronnie Moore with squad investment and played their part in what, not surprisingly became known as the Great Escape.
Green said it would have been easy for Hodcroft to have washed his hands of the club he had run since September, 1997.
“The TMH thing never materialised, thank goodness,” said Green from behind his desk at Victoria Park.
“Back then, we’d come to a situation where we were at a crossroads.
“IOR had been here over 17 years but they had come to a point when they were straight and honest enough to say ‘there’s no more money, we can’t carry on after this season’.
“It became obvious we needed some more investment and we were recommended a company through an FA contact.
“We met with them and everything seemed hunky-dory.
“But things did not materialise, that’s all I want to say about that.
“It was probably one of the most traumatic months of my life and, believe me, I’ve had some of them over the last year. We had to save the club and fair play to Ken, he did.
“I went to him and said ‘I think we need to sort this out’.
“He could have walked away but he didn’t because of the love he had for the club and what he’d done over the years. He did not want to see that disappear
“What he did was vital.
“I think an owner who just wanted rid could have gone but Ken wouldn’t do that.
“Fair play to him, he kept us going.
“It was very difficult because we seemingly had two owners, and while things had not actually been signed we were in a bit of limbo situation.
“We kept everything in place, IOR-style, the whole club carried on.
“Fortunately that kept the club going and Ken kept going, making sure the finance was there to take us through to the end of the season.
“He supported Ronnie Moore with the people he needed to bring in on loan.
“It was imperative to get them, these players were needed to save the football club.”
While each of the last three campaigns has seen Pools fighting relegation battles – and in last season’s case winning it, against the odds – Green insists Pools are in good health thanks to IOR.
“At the end of the day, you have to look at where Hartlepool United were in 1997 and the way things have improved on and off the field,” he said.
“There were many years of success, the stadium has been improved, it’s immaculate. Everything has been improved behind the scenes, the training facilities, everything is first class.
“You have to take off your hat to IOR.
“I know 2005 was a disappointment when we didn’t get into the Championship but they carried on when other owners may have walked away.
“Their legacy, if I had to find one word for it, would be security. That’s what they have given the club and the town.
“The way they have left the club, unlike some, has been brilliant – Hartlepool United is debt-free.”
And Green says those solid debt-free foundations will be vital for JPNG to build on.
Boss Moore has already made six new signings and more could be on the way, starting with experienced striker Billy Paynter.
“They are happy with our mangement team, Ronnie and Sam Collins,” added Green.
“They have full confidence in them and given Ronnie the go-ahead to bring in more players, may be three more.
“Things are looking positive.”