The FIVE big talking points at Hartlepool United in 2020 – budget cuts, redundancies, attempted takeovers and the coronavirus pandemic

As 2020 draws to a close, we look at the biggest talking points surrounding Hartlepool United over the last 12 months.

Friday, 25th December 2020, 12:00 pm

Optimism returns to Victoria Park

The back end of the 2019-20 season saw Pools surge up the National League table and into play-off contention with a run of just two defeats in 11 matches including a run of four straight wins at a bouncing Victoria Park.

Pools were level on points with the top seven at the beginning of March before an ill-fated 1-0 defeat at home to relegation threatened Ebbsfleet United put a dampener on things in what would prove to be the Pools’ final home match in front of a crowd in 2020.

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Pools biggest talking points of 2020.

Coronavirus fallout

The growing threat of coronavirus across the UK initially suspended the 2019-20 National League season before it was eventually cancelled in April.

The cancellation saw Pools fall to 12th on a points per game basis – the club’s highest finish since being relegated to the fifth tier and first top half finish in any division since 2007.

But the fallout as a result of the season being shut down was significant as several redundancies were made at Pools and its youth scholarship programme was shut down.

The club turned to volunteer support as former Darlington chief executive Martin Jesper took over from the outgoing Mark Maguire.

Significant budget cuts were made across the board in what would prove to be a rocky summer for the club as they were left in the dark as to when the new season would start.

Back in action

On October 3, National League clubs returned to action for the first time in seven months.

Despite budget constraints, Dave Challinor was able to put together a squad who managed to win each of their opening three games as Pools became the early pace setters in the fifth tier.

But there was still one big thing missing, fans. Although clubs were led to believe the season would not start without supporters, a support package agreement was reached to compensate clubs while games were being played behind closed doors due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

There have been glimpses of hope with Pools playing in front of sub 1,000 crowds at Morpeth, Ilkeston Town and Woking, but the wait goes on for a return of supporters to Victoria Park.

Attempted takeover

Pools fans are probably still left thinking what could have been after a takeover attempt understood to be from Hollywood pair Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney was rejected by chairman Raj Singh.

The duo then went on to make a successful move to take over at Wrexham, who are set for multi-million pound investment in a bid to get back to the Football League.

Only time will tell if it’s a bullet dodged or an opportunity missed, but it certainly got plenty talking.

Torquay humiliation

After a strong start to the season, things unravelled for Pools as they were humbled 5-0 at home to Torquay United on Halloween.

It was the side’s biggest ever National League defeat and it marked the start of a poor run of form that would see Pools slide out of title contention and toward the familiar mid-table positions.

And after a difficult 2020 on and off the pitch, hopefully 2021 will see things turn around in Pools’ favour.

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