HUST were invited to meet Mr. Singh and Lee Rust to discuss potential next steps yesterday afternoon. Two of our board members attended. It was clear Mr. Singh wants to leave a positive legacy and the meeting was an open discussion about options for future ownership. During the course of the two hour meeting, we were able to ask direct questions about the health of the club, the ground, commercial income etc.
As a trust, we know there isn’t currently a wide appetite for the club becoming fan owned. Some clubs run this model very successfully but it takes collective buy-in, time and of course an organised and consistent financial commitment by the fan base and local stakeholders. Through the generosity of a proportion of fans, HUST have continued to save money monthly, primarily through membership fees and our lottery. This money is intended to invest in the club in return for a minor stake, giving a meaningful voice for fans. We must be very clear that the amount saved, while not trivial, is not enough to sustain the club long-term, so in the absence of an individual willing to step in, a consortium is the likely next best option to take the club forward.
Mr. Singh also stated that he will only fund the club in the short-term and was open about the costs of continuing to the end of the season, then cashflow moving forward. This is not a long period to put in place alternative arrangements and crucially to allow due-diligence. Given we only met with Mr. Singh yesterday, as a board we are quickly reflecting on what was said and speaking to a number of key parties who can provide further guidance. Any consortium that may emerge would need full access to club accounts of course and we have requested this information as a priority. We are aware of some interested parties and will be pro-actively reaching out to them. There may also be other companies or individuals who want to get involved.
We realise that there may be misconceptions about HUST. First and foremost we are committed fans of Hartlepool United, who care deeply about the club, in common with many non-members and other groups. We have not advocated that the club becomes fully fan-owned but wish to see an orderly transition to new owners, with fans being put central to future decisions. We have campaigned for transparency and good communication, as well as running various community initiatives to promote the club in the town.
It is vital that as a fanbase we are united through the next crucial period, sticking together to support the team to improve our league position and to help attract new investment and partners. We will be reaching out to all fan groups to discuss the points raised by the club.
We also need fans to sign up as members of HUST. This demonstrates commitment and unity to potential owners and contributes to the fan’s investment fund. Members also get a vote on crucial issues such as how and when the investment fund is spent. Please consider doing this at the link below.
We are independent, affiliated to the Football Supporter’s Association, independently audited, democratically run and registered as a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society. Our elected board members work on a voluntary basis – any member can stand for election. Trusts are also set up to ensure every penny saved goes to the intended purpose.
All the best,
The board of HUST