John Askey's verdict on the impact of Hartlepool United's takeover talks after Raj Singh meets HUST

John Askey reiterates it is business as usual for Hartlepool United despite recent takeover talks after club chairman Raj Singh met with the Supporters’ Trust.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Hartlepool have been a club up for sale since the end of last season after chairman Singh made the decision to publicly place the club on the market at the request of supporters following relegation from the Football League.

Since then, and throughout the summer, Singh has been keen to inform supporters of the progress being made with regards to any potential takeover – of which there has been little, with no interested parties having been able to provide a significant proof of funds to date.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And having called upon investors, both local and otherwise, and consortium-based approaches, Singh recently met with the Hartlepool United Supporters Trust to explore immediate options, with the Hartlepool owner, seemingly, keen to secure his exit from the club.

John Askey says Hartlepool United cannot use talk of a takeover as an excuse for any further loss in form.John Askey says Hartlepool United cannot use talk of a takeover as an excuse for any further loss in form.
John Askey says Hartlepool United cannot use talk of a takeover as an excuse for any further loss in form.

"I’ve dedicated a huge amount of time, energy and money in the quest to try and help Hartlepool United and in many ways the club is in a much more secure and well-run position, despite what some people like to portray,” Singh said in a recent statement.

“It does however seem that no matter what I do, part of the fan base will not be happy and abuse towards my family and I from a minority has unfortunately continued.

“Upon making the sale public in April I asked any interested parties to provide basic details including how they would take Hartlepool United forward, as well as an initial proof of funds. The initial proof of funds was set at a level based purely on anticipated operating losses for this season and next.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I wanted to be sure that if somebody came in they were reputable, with enough working capital, so that the club didn’t find itself in a difficult position like it has done historically when owners have had fire sales.

Hartlepool United have struggled for form in the National League.Hartlepool United have struggled for form in the National League.
Hartlepool United have struggled for form in the National League.

“A number of enquiries did come in, several were speculative and time-wasting. The factual position is that, despite trying to find a buyer, nobody at this point has come forward with both intent and initial proof of funds to take over Hartlepool United.”

The Trust revealed from their meeting with Singh that the Hartlepool chairman would only continue funding the club in the short-term, however, with the process of Singh’s impending exit appearing to move to its next stage.

“HUST were invited to meet Mr Singh and Lee Rust to discuss potential next steps,” the Supporters Trust statement read.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It was clear Mr Singh wants to leave a positive legacy and the meeting was an open discussion about options for future ownership.

John Askey is familiar with clubs facing uncertainty.John Askey is familiar with clubs facing uncertainty.
John Askey is familiar with clubs facing uncertainty.

"During the course of the two hour meeting, we were able to ask direct questions about the health of the club, ground and commercial income.

"As a Trust, we know there isn’t currently a wide appetite for the club becoming fan-owned. Some clubs run this model very successfully but it takes a collective buy-in, time and, of course, an organised and consistent financial commitment by the fan base and local stakeholders.

"Through the generosity of a proportion of fans, HUST have continued to save money monthly, primarily through membership fees and our lottery. This money is intended to invest in the club in return for a minor stake, giving a meaningful voice for fans.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We must be very clear that the amount saved, while not trivial, is not enough to sustain the club long-term. So in the absence of an individual willing to step in, a consortium is the next best option to take the club forward.”

The statement continued: “Mr Singh also stated that he will only fund the club in the short-term and was open about the cost of continuing to the end of the season, then cash-flow moving forward.

"This is not a long-term period to put in place alternative arrangements and, crucially, to allow due diligence.

"As a board we are quickly reflecting on what was said and are speaking to a number of key parties who can provide further guidance.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Any consortium that may emerge would need full access to club accounts, of course, and we have requested this information as a priority.

"We are aware of some interested parties and will be proactively reaching out to them. There may also be other companies or individuals who want to get involved.”

Read More
The amount of points Hartlepool United need to reach the National League play-of...

The latest developments regarding the future of the club come amid the backdrop of Askey's side having struggled for form in recent weeks, with Pools sliding down the National League table.

But despite the noise, and somewhat uncertainty surrounding the club off the field, Askey has stressed it cannot be used as an excuse when it comes to matters on the field.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It hasn’t impacted me at all,” Askey confessed to BBC Radio Tees.

"It’s like with us bringing Mitch [Hancox] in, the chairman is still the chairman, he’s still the owner. He’s been supportive of myself, so I’ve no complaints.

"What goes on goes on,” he added. "I’ve dealt with this sort of thing before at every club I’ve been at, so it’s nothing new. What we can’t do is use it as an excuse on the playing field. So it’s business as normal for ourselves.

"Hopefully the football club is secure, that’s the main thing. No matter what goes on at football clubs, so long as the football club remains.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We want to remain and be in the highest league possible but it’s a huge part of the community, especially places like Hartlepool, and you can feel that via the supporters.

"It’s not just turning up and watching the team. It’s more than that to people. So it’s vital the club is secure and that’s not from my point of view, that’s for supporters and the local community.”