New Hartlepool United chairman Harris: Our only focus is on League Two survival

Hartlepool United chairman Peter Harris.
Hartlepool United chairman Peter Harris.
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NEW Hartlepool United chairman Peter Harris will give Ronnie Moore all the support he needs to keep the club in the Football League.

Harris is spearheading the new owners TMH 2014 – which stands for The Monkey Hangers in a nod to the town’s folklore – who had been in talks with IOR for a little over two weeks.

The businessman praised outgoing chairman Ken Hodcroft for making the process a seamless one and he is now looking forward to the “challenge” of keeping debt-free Pools in League Two.

IOR wiped debts of £14m as part of the sale and the man tasked with retaining the league status is former Tranmere Rovers boss, Moore, who was appointed the same day the new owners took charge.

“Our focus is on the next five months and keeping the club up – that is it,” Harris said.

“We have one eye on staying in the league and the other eye on what might happen if we don’t.

“We have a contingency plan for that and we don’t want to burden the club with high salaries and being the best paid footballers in the Conference.

“That won’t do anybody any good and we have to be wise with our spending, but we won’t be too frugal.

“We have to get the right players and if they are available and want to come then we will give Ronnie our full support.

“Ronnie will identify the players but we can’t put a figure on how much is available.

“We will sit down and discuss targets and decide if we go for it or not.

“There are funds available for the right people.”

Ex-Middlesbrough coach Mark Venus was among the candidates interviewed, but Harris is adamant they have the right man adding: “We had several candidates, who were all very impressive.

“But Ronnie’s CV proves he has been in this situation and he impressed me when he came in.

“He was bouncing about and wanted to get on with it and said his boots were in the car!

“We need a strong character but also a father figure and he fits the bill.

“We are looking at the loan system too and Ronnie has been to a few games and identified where we need players and he has to go out there and find them.

“When you are bottom of the league, trying to attract players to come here is tough.

“That is where we needed his experience and contacts.

“Until he identifies the players, we don’t know how much money he needs.

“But there is money available if he needs it.”

Harris – who wouldn’t confirm how much TMH 2014 had bought the club for – admitted it had been a frantic couple of weeks but he was delighted to take over the running of a “fantastic club and very professional outfit”.

The new chairman doesn’t have any direct links with the town and while it is just him currently, others are poised to come on board soon.

One name touted around is Swindon Town’s former general manager, Steve Murrall, who is an associate of Harris and was at Victoria Park yesterday.

Harris has interests in a number of businesses including construction, nightclubs and investments and is based near Stratford-Upon-Avon.

He admitted he had been looking to get involved at a football club but none fitted the bill until it became apparent Pools were for sale and his TMH 2014 company was set up a little over a week ago.

The Watford fan will be splitting his time between Pools and his other business interests, but he hopes to make most weekend matches at Victoria Park.

He said: “This was just another challenge and I do like a challenge, which is why I have taken it on.

“I have seen some big challenges in my time and this is quite a big one!

“The business is very professionally run though and very efficient and that is what attracted me to the club in the first place.

“You look at other clubs who have administration issues and you have to restructure the entire club and take your eye off the football, we don’t have to here. It runs itself and Russ Green is a very efficient CEO.

“We are at the bottom of the league and we know it is a tough ask, but we have the right manager.

“The supporters were a little disgruntled under the previous chairman, we want them to come back.

“We would like to encourage all the fans to turn up on Saturday and be our 12th man, hence the ticket offer.”

And the name of the new owners?

Harris added: “TMH stands – everyone knows I think – for The Monkey Hangers. It’s a new company set up specifically to buy Hartlepool.

“We wondered what we should call it and thought the fans would quite like it.”