Hartlepool United: Raj Singh completes takeover as Craig Hignett returns

Raj Singh
Raj Singh was chairman at Pools' rivals Darlington between 2009 and 2012

Teesside businessman Raj Singh has completed his takeover of Hartlepool United, subject to Football Association and National League approval.

He will become the club's new owner and chairman, with former Pools boss Craig Hignett back as director of football.

Contracts were exchanged on Friday after negotiations with former owner John Blackledge were concluded.

Singh was in Jeff Stelling's consortium aiming to buy Hartlepool but the TV presenter's involvement is unknown.

It is the club's second change of ownership in nine months after Blackledge, of Sage Investments, bought out ex-chairman Gary Coxall and JPNG in June 2017.

Singh was formerly chairman at Pools' rivals Darlington from August 2009 to April 2012, although that venture ended with him standing down and the Quakers being placed in administration.

Previously, Singh and Stelling confirmed they had £1.2m of their own funding for the deal, and were aiming to attract a further £600,000 investment.

Pools' Supporters Trust were also keen to invest, launching their own fundraising bid with a target of £250,000.

What situation do the consortium inherit?

There has been a steady decline since Increased Oil Recovery Limited and then chairman Ken Hodcroft sold up to recruitment company JPNG in 2014.

Since then, Pools were relegated from the English Football League for the first time in their history and have been subject to numerous winding-up petitions, with the threat of possible administration.

Supporters helped raise money to meet HM Revenue and Customs payments, and the town's Borough Council recently confirmed a second loan had been made to the club to cover wages, to be repaid from outstanding transfer fee payments, which are underwritten by the EFL.

There is also a lingering concern of back-to-back relegations, with Hartlepool seven points clear of the drop zone having played more games than several of their rivals.

The club's managerial position is still vacant since Craig Harrison left on 21 February, with player-coach Matthew Bates currently in interim charge.

However, Hignett's arrival as director of football could change the dynamic of that situation.

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