“SUBJECT to Football League approval”.
Those were the words that accompanied the announcement on Tuesday, December 16, that IOR had sold their shareholding in Hartlepool United to new owners TMH 2014.
Yet almost six weeks later – and a week before the January Transfer Window closes – TMH 2014 are still waiting for that approval.
It is an issue that is concerning a lot of fans and rightly so, given the lack of investment in the squad so far this window.
Ronnie Moore and Sam Collins have been working overtime to identify players to bring in but the club is proving a hard sell, no surprise given they are nine points adrift at the bottom of League Two.
But when TMH 2014 – led by chairman Peter Harris – were announced as the new owners they promised investment and greater engagement with supporters.
So far, Pools have been restricted to bringing in Scott Harrison, Aaron Tshibola and Rakish Bingham on loan. All have impressed but more are needed. Quickly.
At Tranmere, Pools showed a great deal of effort, desire and commitment but lacked a cutting edge. For weeks now, fans have been told a new striker is a priority.
Yet targets have slipped through the fingers and gone elsewhere.
Charlie Wyke agreed an 18-month contract at Carlisle United, Chris Porter signed for Colchester from Sheffield United.
Winger Jennison Myrie-Williams signed on loan for relegation rivals Tranmere, while defender Michael Raynes moved to Oxford United.
I could go on...
Sides battling for survival are strengthening their squads yet Pools are struggling to do so.
We already know it will cost at least £750,000 to be relegated, small investment now could go a long way to preventing that happening as the Conference is one of the toughest leagues to get out of.
Despite initial pledges from TMH 2014, there has also been a distinct lack of dialogue with supporters in recent weeks.
SportMail has been in touch with the FA and Football League but the league said there is no time limit on when a decision regarding approval will be made.
They also said it is up to the club how much they want to disclose but despite attempts, Pools are not forthcoming with information regarding the latest developments.
The press were also told not to ask Moore any questions regarding ownership at last week’s pre-match press conference.
Clearly a lot of the information will be confidential, which is fair enough, but more communication with supporters is needed.
It would help ease some genuine concerns as there are a number of questions that need answering:
n ARE Pools in a position to make permanent signings or just bring in loanees?
n WILL there be any signings before the transfer window closes?
n WHAT is the timescale for when a decision regarding ownership will be made?
n HOW is it progressing and who is making the decisions in the meantime?
Fans travelled in their hundreds to Prenton Park, singing throughout and spurring the team on to one of their best performances of the season. The fans – and players – showed they are up for the fight.
Now the club needs to do the same off the pitch. Before it is too late.
– RICHARD MENNEAR