Chairman Pam Duxbury brings supporters the latest developments from Victoria Park and an update on the ownership of the Club.
I am delighted to announce that I have completed the first phase in restructuring the ownership of Hartlepool United Football Club.
I have finalised the sale and transfer of the ownership of Hartlepool United Football Club from JPNG Ltd to HUFC Holdings Ltd. I would like to assure fans of Hartlepool United Football Club that no payment from the Football Club was made to Gary Coxall. A nominal amount was paid for his shareholding by HUFC Holdings Ltd, funded by Sage Investments Ltd.
HUFC Holdings Ltd is 100% owned by myself and Sage Investments Ltd and Hartlepool United FC no longer has any connection to JPNG Ltd and its former owners. Myself and Sage Investments Ltd are no longer shareholders of JPNG Ltd and I am no longer a director.
To clarify that, for the avoidance of any doubt, there are no longer any links whatsoever between Hartlepool United Football Club and JPNG Ltd or Gary Coxall.
I am currently the sole director of HUFC Holdings Ltd and Hartlepool United FC Ltd. Therefore 99.6% of Hartlepool United FC Ltd is owned by HUFC Holdings Ltd and the remainder by numerous fans with legacy shareholdings.
The future plans for the ownership of the Football Club are as I have previously outlined; part ownership through the Supporters’ Trust and a consortium of individuals willing to invest in the football club.
The next stage includes completing the normal year-end audit of the Club’s accounts up to 30th June 2017. This will be combined with a detailed audit of the Club and should be completed by the end of the summer. This process will help keep costs to a minimum and increase the efficiency of the engagement with Supporters’ Direct as part of the next phase.
Once the audit is complete, I can then progress with Supporters Direct setting out a three-year vision. This will include achievable targets for the Football Club and the required investment to do so. A prospectus will be created – with input from the Supporters Trust - to highlight the offer to potential investors. Any potential investor coming forward will undergo rigorous due diligence and only partners that I feel are reputable, can work positively together and be of benefit to the Club and the community will be invited to participate. As part of this process, I expect the debt of the Club to be restructured.
If everything goes according to plan, I would anticipate being able to complete this phase by Christmas 2017. As ever, there are unknown factors and there may be delays. However, I will keep fans fully informed during the process.
I plan to construct a balanced board of directors and integrate a formal fan council that will link with the board. I am currently running a fan forum and their support and feedback has been invaluable in helping to make improvements at the Club. This has helped to reinforce the fact that I believe we are now moving in the right direction. I would expect to formalise the fan group into an elected panel that creates the formal link with the board of directors. A nominated representative from this panel will sit on the board.
The last six months have been the most difficult I have ever encountered in my professional career and I am very relieved to be on the other side. Over these past months I have averted the need for the Club to go into administration several times. I could not have done that without the support and backing of Sage Investments Ltd, with whom I have a long standing relationship. I could also not have achieved this result without the unwavering support of my family and friends at home, to whom I am indebted.
Our Football Club is so important to the people of Hartlepool and there is a great love for it beyond the geographical boundaries. The reputation of the Club and its fantastic supporters is recognised across the whole of the footballing community. I want to shape the Club into the Football Club that the community deserves; with success on the pitch, financial sustainability and accountability. As part of this process I intend to reinstate formal Annual General Meetings and hold regular “talk-ins” with myself and the management team. As part of my vision for the Club, I intend to improve the two-way communication between the Club and fans, and fans and club. Open and honest dialogue will be the way in which we conduct ourselves, within the constraints of commercial sensitivities.
I am very much looking forward to getting on with the normal day-to-day business of the Football Club. I will now be able to make huge strides forward and be able to devote my full attention to the operations of the Club now that the purchase is complete.
It is vital to put down the solid foundations to enable us to be promoted to the EFL at the earliest opportunity. I need your support so that I can continue to set these foundations and rebuild the Club. I need you to come to our games. I need you to buy your Season Tickets. We all need you to come and support the team and cheer them on as passionately as you can, and they need to reward you with their effort and performance. I know this is a big ask given the performance on and off the pitch in recent times, however, without you there is no Football Club. There is only so much I can do with internal efficiencies, sponsorship and advertising. In time, I want the non-match day income to be able to sustain the Football Club and match day income to be available to reinvest and develop the Club. At this moment in time we are a long way off that being the case.
The Club was loss making before relegation and we now have an additional £350,000 of lost revenue to make up on top of losses. I am successfully working with sponsors - old and new - to provide sustainable and positive support for the Club. The support from the local business community has been overwhelming and very encouraging. Utility Alliance, in particular, have been a key part of that.
I truly believe we are beginning a new era for Hartlepool United and I am genuinely excited about the future of the Club. The support from the National League has been outstanding and I am very much looking forward to the season ahead and can’t wait for us to get started.
We are all in this together and together we will rise.