JEFF Stelling has thrown his support behind the Hartlepool United Supporters' Trust.

With the club in financial turmoil, the Trust is confident it is capable of picking up the reigns of the club should the worst-case scenario happen and it goes into administration.

Stelling, the club’s life president, hopes it doesn’t come to that.

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But the Sky Sports presenter admits the Trust could be a viable option to run the club.

Pools need to find around £200,000 before January 25 to stave off the threat of administration and a ten-point National League deduction which would plunge Craig Harrison’s side into a relegation battle. On-line fundraising is approaching £30,000 in just 48 hours.

Stelling is meeting an interested party on Monday and hopes the talks come to fruition.

Benefactor John Blackledge has spent around £1.8m of his own money and is no longer willing to fund the club.

But Stelling admitted: “I’m with the Trust. I believe John is a man of integrity and saved the club when no-one would do it, I feel he is a man of morals and put £1.8m of his own money into the club and hopefully he will walk away with nothing if the club survives.

“If we raise the £200,000 it’s got to put to a correct use. It can’t be good money following bad – it’s to pay wages.

“Then this club will be a more attractive proposition to a new owner4. I can’t afford to run a club on my own, but will put money if in the Trust is running it.

“Yes, they can survive, I’m really hopefully we have an investor in place in the not too distant future. At now I feel very hopeful.

“If not plans are place with the Trust.

“People have to be paid, bills have to paid – priorities. Any excess should be with the Trust, who handle it and invest it properly.

“I haven’t seen the books – I know people who have and they have been shocked. It’s not just John Blackledge money, but money owed elsewhere.

“I hope on Monday I will see those books and have a better idea of what needs to be done.’’

The Trust, which has almost 1,000 members, issued a statement calling the club’s current situation an “incredible state of affairs”.

It reads: “The Board of HUST has noted the recent comments in the press that the football club needs £200,000 in the next 2 weeks for it to continue trading. We would like to go on the record and state that we find this to be an incredible state of affairs given Pam Duxbury has previously stated that operational costs at the club are £120-£130k per month.

“The football club is clearly in a much worse place than we have been led to believe, and we cannot understand why the owners left it so late before formally announcing that the club was for sale, as they have not allowed sufficient time for any such sale to realistically take place.

“We also note that the club have not given any clear indication of how they plan to fund the club in February, which is of grave concern to us, assuming £200k can be raised in January.

“The advice we have been given by Supporters Direct is that HUST should not give money to the current owners of the club whilst we remain in the dark in relation to the finances at HUFC. Pam Duxbury has given no indication as to why she needs £200k in such a short space of time, or what it would be spent on were it raised.

“We are mindful of comments she has made recently in relation to legacy debt and fees run up under the previous owners, and we would suggest that the club formally notify fans of where this £200k would be spent, as it is clearly a much higher sum than one month’s operational costs.’’

It adds: “the Board of HUST continue to have dialogue with potential investors and partners, we have important meetings scheduled for the early part of next week and would welcome discussions with any that we have not already spoken with.

“Our goal is that professional football continue to be played in Hartlepool, and we believe we have a viable business plan and access to funding which would help secure the safety of the club should investors be seeking a partnership with us. Again we must stress that we would only work with buyers who share our vision to create a sustainable and successful community club, with the intention of returning the club to the Football League.’’