Economy Measures


During Darlington Football Club's financial woes a few years back Darlington Borough Council to their, it has to be said, eternal shame, offered the club no support whatsoever and basically left the club to hang out and dry and rot. This action in turn sent a message to all and sundry that Darlington is not a footballing town. 

The Quakers for several years then plied their trade in Bishop Auckland. Even now with the Quaker revival of sorts and the team returned to the town there is little or no evidence of any further support from the Borough Council who probably think that the town is too refined to have a football club in its environs.

In contrast you have got to take your hat, or even your dut, off to Hartlepool Borough Council (HBC) for getting involved with the HUFC fight for financial survival as they have always considered the club to be an asset to the town.

They have put it on record that HUFC generates in the region of £5/6 milllion revenue to the town. Bearing in mind that the club only operates around 9 months of the year and a match is on average played once a fortnight then pro rata I would guess that is bigger earner than the Royal Navy Musuem on the Marina, thus making Pools the biggest tourist attraction in the area. Should Pools fold, it would be the equivalent of losing a medium sized business and the ramifications of that would have an impact of the spending power of those employees who lost their jobs throughout the town, on shops, services, council tax etc.

It was bad enough that HUFC lost its Football League status but the ultimate demise of the club could remove the town of Hartlepool from people's mindsets. Let's not forget the huge publicity that the club provides; it is like a free advertising slot on national television, and the media both on keyboard and paper. In the best interests of the town and as a duty of care I think that HBC should take the bull by the horns and get Chris Musgrave back on board along with The Trust and see if together they could thrash out an agreement that would be beneficial to all.

 As recently revealed through the Freedom of Information act, HBC, unlike HUFC, is not cash-strapped. Two years ago it held reserves of £38 million but due to various investments over that period that figure has risen to around £52 million. They could use some of this money in the form of a long term low interest loan to pay off the various creditors, or act as a guarantor to ensure the club's survival.

After pulling out of the purchase of the club Chris Musgrave said "As it stands I do not intend to provide any funds"(Sic). The three words "As it Stands" make me think that if something was put in place by HBC, a sweetener of some sort (nothing illegal!) such as the future development of the whole area around the ground which is in desperate need of being carried out, that he might return with an offer.

On the down side I am of the opinion that there could be several interested parties who would like to purchase the club but only once it entered administration. I was surprised to learn when Pam Duxbury made it clear, that adminstration of a football club is totally different from that of a normal business. The Football League expects the club to honour all its debts otherwise they will face a triple relegation much like our friends down the A66.

Should the club somehow get out of this mess I believe with the right people running the club that they could make it a succesful business. As previously mentioned in these pages there are numerous clubs who survive on small crowds. We all know about Accrington who get, and I used the word loosely,vcrowds, of less than 1,300 per match. Rochdale who are a division above average crowds of less than 3,000.

Cheltenham Town and the unloved Stevenage and Crawley have higher wage bills than Pools due to their southern location, but seem to manage on gates barely bordering above the 2,500 mark. Pools' current gates on average are higher than these and many more clubs in the lower leagues.

Other ways that could ensure the club prospers is to abandon the youth team set up. Being brutally honest, with the exception of Richardson and Simpson, how many youngsters have come through the youth system in recent years. We got £50k for Simpson but it must have cost that much to put him through the system in the first place.

Wycombe Wanderers do it in reverse. They no longer have a youth team set up, as no youngsters of worth were coming through their ranks. The reason for this was that their bigger neighbours like Tottenham and Charlton were snapping up all the talented kids in the area, thus leaving Wycombe with the also rans. Wycombe now pick up the youngsters who have been released by the bigger clubs who in turn invested heavily in their coaching and development, effectively passing on a massive savings to the Chairboys.

Listed hereunder are other Thatcherite savings that could be made to make Pools into a viable concern post-Brexit.

Firstly I would get Billy Horner to return his Datsun. He has had it long enough and the club should get a couple of hundred quid from its scrap value alone.

The current squad is far too big and needs to be trimmed down to a manageable level. Certainly at National League level the fringe players should be employed on a semi-professional basis and as such I would look at bringing in loan players as and when required.

Based on current numbers I would look at a massive cull of the backroom staff at the club. It is currently far too top-heavy A bit like the armed forces. For every soldier in the British Army there are four civil servants to back him/her up. It is getting to the point that at some away grounds our subs have to sit in the stands due to the amount of coaching staff sat on the bench.
"Why do we need a goalkeeping coach? Surely Scott Loach at 29 years of age should know all there is to know about goalkeeping."

We have physios masseurs, goalkeeping coaches, horse whisperers, soothsayers and goodness know what else. Why do we need a goalkeeping coach? Surely Scott Loach at 29 years of age should know all there is to know about goalkeeping. Once you've got you angles sorted you are halfway there. Loach could act as a coach to his understudy if required. The manager and his assistant should be in position to tell a keeper post-match that he did not command his six yard box, or did not shout enough during a match without having to employ someone else to do that.

Note to Craig Harrison: Have a word in Loachy's ear about commanding his six yard box.

Why on earth does a club like Hartlepool United need a recruitment manager who I understand is on a very tasty salary. Once all the players are recruited what does he do all day long? How did we sign players in the past? Russ Green was involved along with having a dozen other jobs he had to undertake.

If Pools do have a requirement for a player the role of a recruitment manager would be like that of an agent. Pay him for his services on an as and when required basis but don't have him on a salary.

I think that if the Trust was involved they could set up a group of volunteers to man the turnstiles/food outlets as well as tidy up the ground after each match and as well as looking after the day to day basic levels of maintenance around the ground.

It has been highlighted that the laundry company Pools use held on to the club's first team strips until all outstanding bills had been paid. How embarrassing. Some say the players at this level should be washing their own kits but I doubt many clubs would allow this because in the main footballers are thick and would probably bring a newly washed away kit to a home match or end up wearing away shorts with a home shirt (contributors' opinions are their own, and are not necessarily endorsed by Monkey Business - Ed.).

Pools should carry out a costing excercise and see if it is worthwhile bringing the laundry service in house by investing in an industrial washing machine/drier.

I would look at dropping any overnight hotel stop overs for away matches unless they were more than 200 miles from Hartlepool unless of course it was for a really vital match. I hope it wasn't true but I got told Pools had an overnight stop for the Morecambe cup match. Surely not.

I would question the level of policing at home games in relation to the amount of stewards that are available in the ground. As previously mentioned I counted twelve Bobbies in the Rink End to manage 40 very polite Maidenhead fans. Police numbers should be negotiated prior to each game based on the anticipated gate or if there is likely to be 'bovver'.

I am sure that if the council was more involved with the club they would allowed Sunday Car Boot Sales to take place at the rear of the Mill House Stand to generate some additional income even if it was just to cover the cost of the detergent for use in the proposed new laundry facility.

The club should promote the use of the ground more during non-match days. A few years back I was in the centenary lounge for a Driver Awareness Course! Disappointingly the bar was not open on the day I attended, which I viewed as lost revenue to the club.

To the best of my knowledge the lounge does not seem to be used as much during the day. To show my undying loyalty to Pools I would be prepared to get caught speeding again if it meant the lounge was used more often for outside functions. Mind, I would probably have three points more than Pools.