Gary Bennett hopes Hartlepool United’s North East neighbours rally round the club in their time of need.
Pools are just 13 days away from potentially going into administration if they don’t find in the region of £200,000 by January 25 to pay player and staff wages plus other bills, including a tax bill.
The situation facing Pools is dire and, while there is takeover interest from two overseas investors, the clock is ticking.
Sunderland legend Bennett, who had a spell with Pools’ fierce rivals Darlington, hopes Pools can find a way through their financial problems and would like to see Sunderland, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough help.
Darlington famously had severe financial problems and ended up being demoted four divisions before reforming and gaining promotions back up the non-league pyramid.
“Hopefully, the North East clubs can come together and try to help out Hartlepool,” said Bennett.
“If any other clubs were in difficulty you could always rely on Hartlepool in some form, like playing matches on their pitch.
“There have been strong links with Sunderland and Hartlepool over the years, with Sunderland sending a team to play Pools in pre-season in recent years. Sunderland take a lot of supporters with them.
“Hopefully they could put a couple of games on at some stage or try and help them out in some other way to raise this money which is desperately needed.”
He added: “I have great memories of playing against Hartlepool. They were proper derby games, great games to be involved in.
“The likes of Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough have always loaned their players to Pools to gain experience and it is a great learning curve for the players.
“It is a really tough time for Hartlepool.
“Nobody was expecting them to get relegated last season, you thought they would bounce back, but the National League is very competitive division.
“With only one team going straight up, and the others battling for a play-off place, it was always going to be difficult.”