Raj Singh’s Hartlepool United takeover on verge of collapse

Raj Singh and Craig Hignett watch Pools at Fylde on Saturday.
Raj Singh and Craig Hignett watch Pools at Fylde on Saturday.

Raj Singh’s takeover of Hartlepool United has hit a snag and is on the verge of falling through, according to Mail sources.

The Mail has learned that heads of terms - documents setting out financial details - for the sale of Pools have failed to be agreed, despite extensive negotiations between solicitors of current owner John Blackledge and Singh.

And as a result, the takeover of the National League outfit hangs by a thread.

Hopes had been high that a deal could be struck this week.

Singh, alongside his prospective new director of football Craig Hignett, made a last-minute call to attend the weekend draw at AFC Fylde, after a number of minor hurdles were overcome in the negotiation process.

As far back as February 28, a statement released quoting Sky Sports Soccer Saturday presenter and lifelong Poolie Jeff Stelling, who has put cash in to support Singh’s bid, stated the consortium had an agreement in principle with Sage Investments, having spoken frequently with Blackledge.

But as revealed in the Mail last week, contrary to statements, no terms have ever been agreed for the sale.

Sources close to the Singh bid claim the goalposts have been moved in recent days, despite a verbal agreement being in place for some considerable time.

It was believed Stelling and Singh would take control of Pools without paying an upfront fee for the fifth tier outfit.

Instead, Blackledge would receive payments to make up his £1.8million investment in the club further down the line, depending on transfer fees, promotion, etc, as well as percentages of future scheduled parachute payments.

When approached by the Mail, Blackledge was unavailable for comment.
The solicitor tasked with dealing with the sale of Pools, Geoff Cunningham of Walker Morris, was approached by the Mail but was unable to discuss the matter on grounds of confidentiality.

The club also remain tight-lipped on recent developments.

Either way it is the worst possible news for Pools heading into a potentially season-defining game this evening.

The players, who are due to be paid their monthly wages this Friday, take on Barrow at Holker Street tonight in what is being billed as a relegation six-pointer against a side just one place above them in the table.

Should Singh step away from proceedings, as appears likely at this stage, it is difficult to see where Pools turn next.

Despite attempts by the Hartlepool United Supporters Trust to rubbish claims of interest from Scandinavia, Ostersunds owner Daniel Kindberg retains an interest in taking over at Pools.

The thing standing in the way of him showing his hand, is outstanding litigation, which continues to hamper progress.

The Trust themselves, keen to unite with Singh and Stelling and take a place on any future board, have managed to muster little more than 10% of the investment asked for.

Singh and Stelling have been keen to get around £600,000 from other sources to supplement their £1.2million outlay.