Following the recent members vote to approve talks regarding an equity investment in HUFC with associated fan representation, we can confirm that representatives of the HUST board recently met with Mr Singh and made an investment proposal. Disappointingly, this was declined.
Based on feedback from members and what other nationally recognised supporters’ trusts have raised, the board proposed a £100,000 investment for a 10% stake in Hartlepool United. This would have combined some of HUST’s existing investment reserve with new funds still to be raised. Fan representation would be secured through a structured dialogue Memorandum of Understanding, followed by an elected non-executive Director on the club’s board once the 10% stake was reached. This type of investment is common across both league and non-league football clubs, it adds value to the running of the club, and is mutually beneficial to club and fans. On top of the share purchase in the first year, the investment would have required HUST’s ongoing commitment to contribute a proportionate share of HUFC’s financial losses in any given year, and further fundraising which would mean a similar value of sustainable investment each year for a further three years. This was something that the Board proposed informally via the Football Club some months ago and initial indications were that this proposal had the potential to be accepted.
The Club’s response
Unfortunately, there was a considerable difference in the valuation of the club and Mr Singh was clear that for any level of shares with associated fan involvement, a significantly higher sum would be required. He respectfully declined to progress the offer further in its current form. It is worth highlighting that the £100,000 proposal was in addition to money already donated by various initiatives run by a number of groups across the season. HUST representatives noted in the spirit of honesty that it was unlikely that fans would be able to raise the sums suggested by Mr Singh (indicated to be more than £200,000) in a reasonable timeframe with a further regular annual commitment moving forward. This creates an obvious barrier to genuine investment by fans, though the Chairman remains open to offers of financial help from HUST and other supporter groups.
Martin Jesper adds “The Club will continue its ongoing communication and engagement with HUST and other supporter groups as, together, we look to embed sustainable financial and operational initiatives to stabilise the Club during the current challenges – providing an opportunity for growth and success both on and off the pitch.”
Although this is obviously a disappointing outcome, on behalf of all HUST members we thanked Mr Singh for his time, feedback, and ongoing support of Hartlepool United. Although we disagree with his valuation of the club and views on structured supporter representation, we want to be clear that we do still support Mr Singh as an owner at this time.
The way forward
We are continuing to work closely with Martin Jesper to see how we can offer practical assistance through this difficult season while maintaining the clear, nationally recognised HUST values of fan representation in our great club. We remain supporters of the volunteering initiative which was launched by the club, actively assisted by Micheal Weir from the HUST board. Michael and Martin Jesper have both been impressed with the calibre of applicants so far and the Club are now starting to progress these. HUST also supported the Club with volunteers for the recent HUFC FA Youth Cup match.
HUST will also continue to build our reserve fund. We see this as a fundamental part of our work and, during our meeting, Mr Singh actively encouraged us to continue with it. We’ve been working on different methods to make fundraising via the website more efficient and supporters can go online to pledge regular donations, become a member of HUST, and contribute financially through our legally-licensed monthly lottery. And of course as supporters of HUFC we will continue to get behind Dave and the team the best we can, hopefully witnessing the club get back into the football league this season.
Join the Board, help to ensure Pools’ future
All HUST members were emailed on 9 October to be given the opportunity to nominate themselves for Board membership. Even though HUST is a nationally recognised, regulated and established organisation, it is vitally important that we continue to have fresh faces joining the Board to ensure that the objectives are met, and that as an organisation we can be confident of helping ensure the long-term future of Hartlepool United.