Hartlepool United are no strangers to completing great escapes. They have in the past escaped relegation from the Football League multiple times including 14 re-elections. That was until last season of course when they were relegated to the National League for the first time in their history.
They are also currently facing the biggest battle in their history. Not only are they at the wrong end of the National League, they are also facing the possibility of going out of business. Money is needed fast at Hartlepool or the unthinkable could become reality.
Hartlepool Facing Uphill Battle
When United were relegated on the last day of last season, a swift return to the Football League was required. The club remained full time and went about their day to day business as a full-time club. Unfortunately, in non-league football this is only sustainable for so long without money coming into the club to allow it.
Hartlepool still had overnight stays for away games and kept a large squad. Close to 30 full-time players made up their squad. This is a large amount for many Football League clubs nevermind a club in the National League.
A struggle to adapt
Hartlepool began their new season with a new manager, Craig Harrison. Many expected a season battling at the top of the league. After all, even though they had been relegated they had a squad capable of competing at the right end of the table. Sometimes, however, things do not work out this way.
It took Pools seven games to record their first victory and even though form improved slightly in the short term, at the time of writing, the club are currently on a nine-game winless run. This run sees them at the wrong end of the table and just six points off the relegation places. Their current run is relegation form; however, this is not their biggest battle at present.
Future in danger
Pools are currently losing around £130,000 a week having remained a football league paying outfit but playing in the non-league. This along with issues paying players, staff and also a tax bill has left the club’s future in major doubt.
Help from other football clubs and fans has been gratefully accepted at their time of need. A Just Giving page was set up in a bid to raise £200,000 to keep the club going. Clubs up and down the country have been collecting money from fans to help out too. Fans from around the country turned up at Pool’s last home game to boost the attendance and bring much needed extra revenue into the club. The Hartlepool United Supporters Trust also set up a fundraising drive in an attempt to raise as much as possible to keep the club afloat.
It is understood that the money raised has helped the club massively. Players and staff have been paid and are ready for their next crucial game against Eastleigh FC.
Potential new owners have seemingly come close to taking over. Unfortunately, as of yet they have not completed a deal that would save the club. Hartlepool-born entrepreneur Chris Musgrave pulled out early this week stating that the financial difficulties facing the club were serious and he was unable to identify how much money it would take to save the club. He was also unprepared to sign blank cheques.
Swedish investor Daniel Kindberg, chairman of Ostersunds is said to be having second thoughts about investing money in the North East club. He set a date of January 24th to decide. However, with this date now passed, it is still unclear whether he or the Scandinavian consortium he has been linked with are still interested. They along with several other interested parties are understood to have provided proof of funds of around £3 million.
Possible winding up order
A tax bill of £50,000 is still waiting to be paid. It is a bill they are struggling to deal with without new owners. The amount is due in 14 days; however, the HMRC are clamping down on football clubs and could request the bill to be settled in just seven days. If it is not paid then a winding-up order will be issued. Liquidation could be a real possibility from then on.
Club is the heartbeat
No one wants to see a club go out of business. A football club is often the heartbeat of a town or city and, without its team, a big part of the area is lost and confined to history. Fans up and down the country will have everything crossed that Hartlepool can find a way to get out of trouble. Their fans are trying everything possible to keep their club alive so it has a future. The next few days could provide a clearer picture of what the future will hold.
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