Raj Singh’s Pools takeover almost complete

Raj Singh at Victoria Park last night.
Raj Singh at Victoria Park last night.

Raj Singh’s takeover of Hartlepool United is finally expected to be completed within the next 24 hours.

Hopes had been high that a deal could be done in the run-up to last night’s crucial National League win over Bromley, which saw Pools open up a five-point gap from the fifth tier relegation zone.

Raj Singh

Raj Singh

But things dragged out past the expected afternoon announcement time, and instead the finishing touches are expected to be put on the paperwork today.

Confidence remains high the deal will be done imminently.

And the Mail has learned that at this stage there’s not been any hitch to throw proceedings into doubt, the delay was simply due to paperwork taking longer to sift through than originally anticipated.

Without any last minute issues, Singh should be officially announced as the new owner of Pools, with Craig Hignett coming in as director of football, above caretaker boss Matthew Bates, who is expected to remain in his post in the short-term.

Chief Executive Pam Duxbury is also likely to remain at the club in her present position.

With things improving on the park and the landscape steadily improving off it, Singh, supported financially by Jeff Stelling, is understood to be keen not to rock the boat at the Vic.

Singh is set to take control of the club from John Blackledge, of Sage Investments, for the up-front fee of just £1.

Together with Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday presenter Stelling, Teesside businessman Singh has around £1.2million to plough into the club.

The duo had hoped to raise around another £600,000 to ensure Pools had nothing to worry about financially for at least the next three seasons, with the plan to make the club run as close to self-sufficient as possible in that time.

But they currently find themselves with a black hole in their budget. Although, that is not understood to be causing concern in the Singh camp, who are relaxed about the shortfall.

Singh and Stelling are still open to the idea of outside investment, and are understood to be welcoming approaches for a cash boost to the club’s coffers.

But, at this stage, despite a number of offers of support, no party who has declared their interest has come forward with a cash offer of investment.

Last night, Pools stretched the gap to the bottom four to five points with yet another vital win in their bid to avoid drop.

It was a full debut to remember for Josh Hawkes, who opened the scoring with a long-range effort.

Josh Rees then levelled for the visitors on the stroke of half-time before a well-worked ninth goal of the season for Michael Woods sealed all three points.

Ahead of the takeover confirmation, Singh and Hignett watched last night’s victory from the Vic directors’ box, alongside Duxbury.