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Hartlepool United yet another club on the brink

Thursday 25th January 2018

Hartlepool United's fall appears set to continue. The National League side has hit the headlines in the last few weeks for all the wrong reasons. Is another former Football League club set to go under?

Finances down the football ladder

In modern football money is everything. The microcosm of life and all that. As with everywhere else, the difference between the haves and have-nots is continually increasing.

Manchester City has endless money. Ask Jose Mourinho; he'll tell you. The ridiculous rise in wages and transfer fees over the last decade is nothing to elite clubs. Barcelona might say otherwise if you bring up Neymar. Mention Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho and their tune will change. Nevertheless, the cost of doing business has risen accordingly all the way down football pyramids. 

Even in Non-League football, a surprising number of sides have been taken over with heavy financial investment. Two of the most high profile cases are Billericay Town and the plaything of Fergie's Fledglings, Salford City.

Being unable to compete off the pitch has sent many reasonably-sized traditional Football League clubs tumbling further down the ladder. Two sides that fell out of the Football League last season were Hartlepool and Leyton Orient. Both are experiencing turbulent times.

Orient’s financial mess was the catalyst for its tumble from the league. The true extent of Hartlepool’s woes could take it much further into the abyss.

Hartlepool's current mess

In the last few weeks, it has been reported Hartlepool could face administration. The club allegedly needs £200,000 to cover a tax bill. That's a drop in the ocean for Premier League clubs. It's a tidal wave to a small club like Pools. In addition to the Revenue bill, players and non-playing staff are due to be paid this week. 

There has been a great deal of support in the footballing world. Middlesbrough, a club who Pools helped in its biggest hour of need, has gotten behind them. As has Hartlepool’s most well-known fan, Jeff Stelling.

Even if the money is raised, it will only keep the club operating for a short time. A permanent solution is needed.

If the club was to enter administration it is unknown what penalty it would face. Different circumstances have previously led to different penalties. A points deduction would be likely.

That will hurt. The playing season has been pretty disastrous itself for Hartlepool. Any club falling down a division always sees the fans expecting to bounce straight back the following campaign. More often than not, it is a battle just to compete in the new league.

Under new manager Craig Harrison the club has struggled to gain any momentum. Pools languish in the table's bottom half. Fans have been turning against players and management.

The relegation zone is still far below. A points deduction, however, could drop United right in.

On Saturday Hartlepool sold out it's Victoria Park ground to face Wrexham. It lost 2-0.

Potential deal falls through

Over the last week, hope had been high a deal had been put in place to save the club. On Tuesday it was announced the potential saviour, local businessman Chris Musgrave, had pulled out after seeing the state of the club's finances.

No one has ever made money out of this club. That was never my intention and I was prepared to provide finance to the value of over £1.5 million but I am not prepared to sign blank cheques with no end in sight.

As it stands, I do not intend to provide any funds to the Football Club, for reasons within this statement, but I do hope the club will saved.

Administration and worse are now a very real possibility for the North East club. 

Hartlepool United exists light years away from the Man Cities and Barcelonas of the game. To locals, though, it is far more important. Next week could be make or break for Hartlepool United. Unless someone miraculously steps forward, it looks like being the latter. 

Simon Hahn

Lifelong sufferer following Darlington FC from League Two to the Northern League. Freelance Sports and data journalist. Living for 3pm on Saturday.

Total articles: 163

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