On Thursday 21st Chairman Raj Singh and members of the board met with representatives from fans groups (using appropriate social distancing measures) to discuss the current situation with the league and at the club and put forward ideas for the future.
Minutes of the meeting will be published by the groups in due course, but it is important that the club announces the key points which were raised. We start by thanking all fans for their on-going and incredible support, once again the fund raiser organised by Gary White has shown how far Pools fans will go to help their club and we can’t thank you enough.
The board outlined the measures that have been taken to ensure the club comes through this period of uncertainty and to cope with the reality of a very difficult climate in football and the wider economy over the next few years. To date the Chairman has invested over £2 million in the club to sustain losses which have been the reality of Hartlepool United over many years, and the recent very difficult decisions regarding redundancies and cost savings have been designed to address the sustainability of the club at National League level while retaining the ambition of reaching the EFL.
The Chairman has borne the responsibility of supporting the club financially acknowledging Jeff’s contribution but the idea from the very start was that it was always the aim and intention to attract partnership investment to share the burden. We now have a business which has dealt with all of the historical problems inherited, which has a reduced cost base and the right Manager in place but even then as long as we remain in the National League will require money to be injected each year to remain competitive.
Therefore the Board put forward the idea of a share issue in the form of an Equity Participation Scheme with the plan to raise up to £200,000 in the first year from fans, fans groups and local business people for a share of the business. The Equity Participation Scheme is intended to extend beyond the raising of funds and is essentially a community movement which will bring fans closer to the operation of the club by way of recruitment of volunteers which will assist in keeping the costs of running the club to a minimum but almost as important will create a feeling of joint purpose and togetherness as we work together to protect the club for the long term.
In addition The Chairman outlined that he is looking at ways in which individuals who may be looking to invest larger sums may involve themselves in the club either as part of the EPS or by other means and will consider further thoughts and ideas in this regard.
Hartlepool United is vital to its town and this announcement is made in the spirit of protecting one of the towns’ most important assets, not in a moment of crisis but in an effort to avoid crisis and to make a plan for the future which allows Raj Singh to continue his financial support of the club but also to share the burden of doing so.
Nobody knows what will happen to the economy over the next couple of years, and we completely understand that everybody reading this will have their own challenges but we firmly believe that a collective approach will ensure a thriving Hartlepool United which has finally corrected the financial challenges and is fit for purpose in challenging for promotion whilst not risking the clubs existence.
We have asked fans groups for feedback and ideas before we formally put together any share issue and will make further announcements over the coming days.
The volunteer recruitment drive will be launched shortly with the club keen to build a register whilst we await further information on when the new season will commence
We look forward to working with you and moving this amazing club forward to a brighter and more secure future by our collective efforts.