Raj Singh clarifies his comments on Hartlepool United Supporters Trust and delivers a message to fans
Raj Singh has moved to clarify his comments on Hartlepool United's Supporters Trust - and has urged supporters to stick together through the final weeks of the campaign.
The Pools chairman had suggested that the club's supporters trust (HUST) had indicated that they would be able to raise £250,000 to help facilitate the takeover of the club last year, but such finances never materialised.
Fans were quick to react to the chairman's programme column on social media, with divided opinions on the matter.
But speaking to Pools' official website, Singh has moved to clarify exactly what he meant by his comments which he believes have been misinterpreted - while urging supporters to remain united at a time where the club looks to be moving on an upward trajectory.
"I just wanted to clarify some of the points made in my Programme notes for Saturday’s game that I feel have been blown out of all proportion in the days since," said the Hartlepool chief.
"Perhaps I was guilty of trying to cram too much in to my notes in terms of what has happened over the past year and I think what I said has been misinterpreted.
"The point I was trying to make was that when we first started talking about taking over the Club, there were a lot of parties that were interested and a lot of names being thrown about, both locally and nationally. But not one person came forward when it came to putting their hands in their pockets.
"I was trying to explain how these meetings and scenarios we had in front of us at the time were changing day by day and the figure of £250,000 mentioned by the Supporters’ Trust was something they were hoping to raise over time rather than something that was promised.
"Also, there were quite strict time limits set, as you can appreciate, and we had to move very quickly in order to rescue the Club.
"Since Saturday I have heard and read comments saying that the Trust were never going to hand over money to the Club unless it was in return for shares. Well, that is exactly what was discussed at the time. The Trust’s aim was to raise enough funds to have an equity within the Club in the same way Jeff Stelling has.
"I have also seen comments that Mark Maguire and I have said that the Club was not looking for investment - that couldn’t be further from the truth. What we have both said is that we wanted to first get the Club into a position where any investment would be on our terms and for the right reasons rather than expose the Club to the risk of the type of investors who float around at moments of crisis. Indeed, at the Fans Forum held at the start of the season I did say that anybody coming in to the Club would need to be the right fit for us. That remains the case now.
"While we understand that the Trust has its legal obligations and duty to its members, I think it’s fair to say that they were never going to be able to raise enough money quickly enough at that particular time last year. So what I said in my notes was in no way meant as a slur – I know that the intentions of the Trust were good.
"I see on social media and elsewhere online supporters having a go at each other regarding who should be doing what and what has been done in the past for the benefit of the Club. The fact is that everybody did what they thought was in the best interests of the Club at the time and the outcome was that we managed to save Hartlepool United, which was the resolution we all wanted.
"The £80,000 raised by the Just Giving page was just as important as what the Trust was and is trying to do because if that hadn’t been raised to pay tax bills and other bills last year then the Club would have gone in to administration.
"I have thanked all the people who helped raise that money and everybody who donated before and I would like to thank them again because it was very important. Different people have different ways of supporting the Club but the common theme is that we all have the same thing at heart – and that is to make Hartlepool United a success.
"The last thing we need at the moment is any division among supporters just at a time when it feels as though we are starting to make some progress and there are some encouraging signs as we move towards the summer and in to next season.
"Let’s all get together and throw our support behind the Club as one because if we’re all pushing in the same direction then hopefully we can move towards achieving our targets that little bit faster."