Cost Cutters


Prior to the coronavirus hitting the streets the hierarchy at Pools were quite rightly looking at next season's budgets and cost cutting. It has gone on record several times that Raj Singh has invested more money in Pools than he had envisaged. Presumably this was in the hope of making the play-offs and perhaps an unlikely promotion which would have boosted the coffers no end.

There was talk of having a smaller squad (all under five foot four?) next season as well as the probability of part-time football. Consideration was given to volunteers working at the club. Basically the club on a week-to-week basis is still losing money and still has past debts to repay and this situation rightly has to be assessed and redressed.

I am sure the pressure must be on Mr Singh who must be fighting on two fronts as in addition to pumping additional funds into Pools the impact of the coronavirus must be having an big impact on his own business (care homes) which in a worse case scenario could further impact on Pools. I would like to think that the receipts from Pools' cup run and Peter Kioso's transfer fee have provided a cushion of sorts in the interim.

Through no fault of their own, Hartlepool United have now become victims of the old adage about the best laid plans of mice and men. The coronavirus has, to coin a phrase, not only moved the goalposts but effectively dismantled them and sold them for scrap.

Let's assume that the National League draws a line under the 2019/20 season. Hartlepool United, like a lot of other clubs, find themselves in a conundrum. Before planning the budget for Season 2020/21. Pools have other issues to address.

Pools had four home matches left to play before Covid-19 struck. Do they appeal to the sense of loyalty of season ticket holders who can afford to do so, to forfeit this money for the good of the club? The club could cover part or all of their loss by offering the ticket holder, as a sweetener, so many free pints/pies per match for the 2020/21 campaign.

Whilst retaining the annual attractive offer of a cut-priced season ticket if purchased pre-season, consideration should be given to a 3-5% increase in their cost. Pools season tickets are probably the most competitively priced in the National League and watching Pools is considerably cheaper than Darlo, Gateshead and York, who are all a division below us.

Then comes Catch 22. On the downside, many fans could have been hit hard financially because of Covid-19, having seen a reduction in their incomes or, worse still, loss of work, which would rightly put Pools low on their list of priorities.
"Hartlepool United have now become victims of the old adage about the best laid plans of mice and men."

It is no secret that the squad does need streamlining as it is far too big. There might be some shock departures when the club releases its retained list.

Bringing in loan players is the obvious option and with other clubs similarly trimming squad sizes down there will be a decent pool of players nationally desperately looking for work.

It was mooted from several sources, even before Covid-19, that Pools, like many other National League clubs, might go part-time or bring in semi- professionals. So far Raj has ruled this out but with Nicky Featherstone signing a new deal this week, that is nine full-time professionals on the books for 2020/21 season.

The club are also considering bringing in volunteers (I presume not playing staff?) to help run the club on match days. A great idea, but not if it means filling in for permanent staff that have recently lost their jobs. A bit like filling a dead man's shoes. But to ensure the club's survival, unpalatable as it may be, it could be a case of 'needs must'.

A number of clubs deploy match day volunteers and it works very well, Darlington 1883 being an example. I was once told by a Darlo-supporting friend (is there such a thing?) that they have/had a lad who travels up from London for each Saturday home game to man a turnstile (but I think the word turnstile at Darlo is singular and not plural.) Probably another cost-cutting exercise, but, joking aside, fair play to the lad. He must like trains.

I would like to think that we are in a better place than some of our counterparts in the National League as I fear some of them will go to the wall. It is a great shame that the 'Greed is Good' League is not doing more to support the lower tiers of the football community. Consideration should be given to imposing an additional levy on the transfer fee of any overseas player who joins a Premiership / Championship club, which would in turn filter down to the lower leagues and this would perhaps, long-term, encourage clubs to look at home grown talent instead of going abroad when considering bringing in new players.

I am sure that we will see many other cost-saving exercises in due course and perhaps a few shocks along the way but we will have to roll with them if we are to have a football club in the town and to support.

Support is going to being the key word.

Never Say Die.

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