1. ITV Report

Hartlepool United goes up for sale amid debts of £1.8m

Craig Harrison Photo: PA

Hartlepool United has been put up for sale.

Staff, players and The Supporters' Trust were told yesterday. The club, which was relegated to the National League earlier this year, is believed to have debts of around £1.8 million.

The club has released a statement regarding ownership and future direction.

The Club entered new ownership in June of this year and much great work has been done by all at the Club to ensure it is run in a more sustainable and transparent manner.

Upon the change of ownership, the Club became aware of a number of legacy issues that have consumed huge financial and human resources. The Club now believes that they have got to the bottom of these issues and are dealing with them accordingly.The Club needs more investment. Over the past few months the Club has spoken to several interested parties. However, no firm proposals have been forthcoming, and the Club now feels that the net needs to be widened beyond the town to attract the necessary investment. The Club knew that relegation would present significant challenges this season, which it has.

The Club, its staff, supporters, the people in and around the town recognise that a successful and sustainable club is what the town needs. The Club is excited and looking forward to the games over the festive period and recognise the fans have a massive part to play in helping us move up the table. The Club would welcome expressions of interest from investors that are serious and committed and, to that end, the Club has appointed Geoff Cunningham, Walker Morris Solicitors to deal with those enquiries. Geoff will assist in filtering out those who are genuinely interested in joining the Club on our journey back to the EFL and a Club to be proud of.

– Hartlepool United

The Hartlepool United Supporters' Trust has also released a statement.

The Trust notes the statement from HUFC this morning, which we hope brings a degree of clarity around the current financial situation at the club.

While we are concerned that debt levels have continued to rise, a change of ownership presents an opportunity for supporters, and everyone who cares about the club, to assess what type of club they want going forward. We as a Supporters Trust exist to ensure that a professional football club continues in Hartlepool.

To that end as a Trust we will now look at:

• Consultation- Survey of supporters to understand what people really want. We want to unite fans of the club and understand what level of fan involvement that they want moving forward • Financial Assessment – If a buyer cannot be found we need to explore the possibility of a Trust owned club. This would involve high level discussions around what working capital would be required to turn the club around from the current loss making business model. We would also need to explore whether the current owners would genuinely want to sell to The Trust. In May 2017 the club made an undertaking to let The Trust have sight of the financial accounts. To date this has not happened. • Public Meeting- If The Trust ends up in a position where it has to step in we would host an immediate Public Meeting to discuss whether there is a genuine will within the fan base for this to become a reality, and what we would need to do to make it happen.

We will be having an informal Board Meeting tomorrow evening after the game, and will update further in due course.

– Hartlepool United Supporters' Club