Grounds for Concern


I recently, along with 3,700 others, watched the interview headed A Chat with Raj Singh. We have not heard a lot from Mr. Singh in recent weeks, perhaps understandably as Covid is having an impact on his business. Like most chairmen at other clubs,  in the main he said all the things that supporters would want to hear. He made no bones about the impact of Covid and the lockdown and spoke of the club's financial situation. He confirmed that the government furlough scheme was welcomed as were the monies from the National Lottery and the fans who donated £30k, all of which have kept the club ticking over.

He thinks very highly of Dave Challinor as an individual and as a manager and later next year will, if everything is going in the right direction, extend his contract.

There was a rumour going around the houses that the owner and Jeff Stelling have had some form of falling out. Although he did not say as much Mr Singh was not pleased that the solicitors who represented the group that were looking at taking over the club spoke direct to Jeff Stelling and not him, the owner of the club. A very fair point.

Mr. Singh also pointed out that he had put £2.4 million into the club whereas Jeff Stelling had contributed £100k. He did not confirm that there was an actual falling out as such between them but he was understandably not pleased at all in the manner in which the representatives of the prospective buyers had made their approach.
"a whacking big sign should be put outside Victoria Park stating "Not for Sale under any circumstances""

One worrying point Mr. Singh made was when he was discussing various revenue streams which he would like to introduce in order to make the club more viable such as conferences and concerts being held at Victoria Park but investors would need to know ''Who owns the Ground''. Is Mr Singh interested in purchasing the ground and ultimately to what end? To the majority of Hartlepool fans the ground is the Holy Grail and belongs to Hartlepool Borough Council, which ultimately belongs to the people of the town, and a whacking big sign should be put outside Victoria Park stating "Not for Sale under any circumstances". I would welcome a forward-looking council to work hand in hand with any bone fide trustworthy owner whoever he she or they might be and to that end they must be under no illusion that the ground is a non-negotiable asset

Some argue that if the Council was desperate for funds they could sell the ground and put a caveat in the contract stating that the ground can only be used for football matches. The same applied to Feethams, Darlo's old ground. It was the Cricket club who owned the ground and there was a legal stipulation enshrined in law dating back years stating that if the ground was sold it could only be used for sporting events.

Eventually Darlington FC left Feethams for pastures new and no doubt some smart Philadelphia-style lawyer found a loophole and got round all the previous legalities and the site is now a soulless bland-looking housing estate.

Hartlepool Borough Council knows the value and worth that the club brings to the town in terms of visitors, jobs and revenue as well as the free publicity, and to lose this would be a catastrophic loss to the town. The council is keen to obtain government money to redevelop the Mill House area. Whether Victoria Park remains on the current site or has to be moved elsewhere remains to be seen. However wherever it is located it is essential that it must at all cost remain in council hands.

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