Hartlepool United Football Club Limited – Unaudited Financial Statements for the thirteen month period ended 31 July 2018
A number of members have approached the HUST Board requesting comments on, and certain answers to questions regarding, the above.
We should remind members that we have no form of MOU with Hartlepool United (‘the Club’) with regard to the provision of financial information.
We have approached a number of members who are chartered accountants, and so are qualified to make reasoned comments, for their views and we can report the following:
1. As would be expected from the Chairman and his Board, these financial statements appear to be fully compliant with all relevant Financial Reporting Standards and with applicable Company Law.
2. The financial statements are unaudited; they do not need to be and so no conclusion can, or should, be drawn from this point.
3. The accounts are ‘filleted’ as in they have been abbreviated to provide the minimum disclosures required by Company Law of a publicly available document for a company of this size.
4. The financial statements rightly make reference to the fact that Hartlepool United Football Club Limited is reliant on the continued financial support of Clarence 18 Limited, the parent company owned by Prestige Group Investments Limited (a company owned by the Chairman) and Mr R J Stelling. It may be assumed that the Chairman has effectively undertaken to support ‘the Club’ for at least twelve months from 18 April 2018: we should acknowledge and appreciate this support.
5. As at 31 July 2018 ‘the Club’ owed Clarence 18 Limited the sum of £848,435: this sum will obviously have increased significantly since that date and it may be assumed that some of these monies have been borrowed by Clarence 18 Limited from Prestige Group Investments Limited or other companies controlled by Mr S Singh.
6. Given that the accounts are ‘filleted’ there is limited information available with regards to the financial performance of ‘the Club’ during the period; we can, however, see that it incurred a loss of £1,587,069 during the thirteen months, compared to a loss of £930,296 during the previous twelve months. This loss of £1,587,069 is close to our expectations.
7. What can be deduced from these financial statements is the support of Mr J Blackledge to both ‘the Club’ and to the Chairman and, indeed, it is appropriate to note that Mr S Singh has acknowledged this support previously. It appears that Mr Blackledge’s company, Sage Investments Limited, was owed a total of £1,727,181 at the time of the takeover by Clarence 18 Limited. Mr Blackledge has, we assume, through agreements which are not publicly available, accepted deferred terms and mechanisms for the repayment of part of that total sum. The Chairman and his Board estimate that £330,000 of the £1,727,181 will be ultimately repaid and the balance of £1,397,181 has been treated as a capital contribution to ‘the Club’ by Sage Investments Limited. In the absence of financial statements for Sage Investments Limited and Clarence 18 Limited, covering the period to 31 July 2018, we can deduce nothing other than that the actions of Mr Blackledge have been instrumental in ensuring that ‘the Club’ did not fail when that seemed to be the most likely consequence last year. We applaud and thank both Mr Singh and Mr Blackledge for their actions and the agreement which they appear to have reached. We will monitor the financial statements as they become available of both Clarence 18 Limited and Sage Investments Limited to confirm the treatment of these transactions by those companies.
8. Questions can obviously be raised with regards to matters such as the reported staff numbers and the level and composition of sums such as those attributed to ‘prepayments’ and ‘accruals and deferred income’, but we are simply not in a position to make any reasoned comment. Conjecture serves no purpose and can be damaging. Similarly we cannot pass any comments on transactions entered into by the shareholders and management in place prior to the involvement of Sage Investments Limited.