RAJ SINGH, the former Darlington chairman, insists he has no regrets over his time with Quakers after taking control at Hartlepool United.

Forming a consortium with Pools’ fan and Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling, holds no fears, admitting his new venture is a chance to right some football wrongs.

“Why? I’ve been asked a lot,’’ he revealed. “The reason is purely I’m a football fan and it went wrong at Darlington, it’s something I wanted to rectify.

“I wanted to get involved in football and it went wrong. Unfinished business if you like. If there’s a reason, that’s it.’’

Singh was in charge of Quakers, following the shambolic reigns of both George Reynolds and George Houghton, when they tumbled down the leagues in 2011 and were forced to start again in the Northern League.

His offer to return and fund the club last year didn’t materialise after he backed down following an outcry from supporters of the fan-owned club.

He has watched his new team four times recently, and the deal to buy out Sage Investments and benefactor John Blackledge was slowly finalised late on Friday evening. A National League board meeting on Thursday will ratify it.

Craig Hignett, the former Pools boss, will return as director of football, with Matthew Bates staying in charge for the last four games of the season.

Concerns over the club’s level of debt – Blackledge is owed £1.8m – and possible litigation with former shareholder Peter Goldberg have been eased.

And the threat of Pools entering administration and suffering a ten-point National League deduction which would increase fears of relegation to National League North – where Quakers now play – is gone.

Singh, who owns the Prestige Group of care homes across the Tees Valley, added: “Darlington? There’s no regrets really. I regret how it ended up, but not getting involved.

“Again, I think there was a lot – and it’s been well-documented – of things which brought it to a head; the worst recession in 70 years, the banking crisis and football fans forget that.

“We had our tenants, Southern Cross going bust with £1.2m rent being owed, so there was a lot of factors that people don’t understand and they only wonder why he’s stopped putting money into the club.

“Regrets? Taking Darlington to Wembley for the FA Trophy, well that was a little plus point which was achieved.

“I took over at Darlington when it was troubled, but Hartlepool is in a better shape. And I’m a lot older, wiser, dafter even and would like to think I’m a different person when I went into Darlington.

“I’d like to think I’m much better equipped to be chairman of a football club and time will tell.’’

Pools have suffered a tormented time in the last 12 months. After former chairman and owner Gary Coxall dragged Duxbury, Blackledge and Sage in as he struggled to keep the club going, they were relegated from the Football League for the first time in the club’s history.

They have been miserable on the pitch this season, with former boss Craig Harrison sacked in February. An on-line fund-raising campaign brought in £86,000 which has paid bills, wages and allowed the club to continue as a business. Hartlepool Borough Council last month loaned the club £76,000 to pay the wage bill.

“The club itself is in stormy waters, but what we have planned and if we can get it right then it’s something exciting,’’ added Singh.

“I could have gone back to Darlington last year. The club approached me, Martin Gray came to me and he had done exceptionally well.

“They missed out on the play-offs because of the stadium and I wanted to help. But when it came out, some people have their own hidden agendas, and I felt it wasn’t worth the headache. It was going to be a hiding to nothing.

“Unfinished business and I could have got it right, but not at any cost. I see it as an opportunity missed and now I’m on the other side.’’

He added: “I’m excited about this. It’s an adventure and where it will take us no-one knows. That’s the excitement.

“I will say that Hartlepool fans can forget the past and don’t judge me for being an ex-chairman of Darlington.

“Go from here and see where it takes us, give me a fair crack of the whip. I know at the moment then people are thinking what choice have we got other than Raj Singh? Well I would like to think in two or three years time that they look back and think that even if they had four or five choices then they would have been happy to pick me.’’

Stelling will keep his title as life president, while Singh forms a new board of directors. The aim is for a return to the Football League as soon as possible.

Fortunes have picked up on the pitch under stand-in boss Matthew Bates and he will remain in control until the end of the season.

Staff at Victoria Park are currently undergoing a process of redundancy and Singh admitted changes will have to be made.

“At Darlington it was all about the stadium and we tried to run it like a Championship club because we had the stadium like it was and it was costing us a lot of money to run it like that,’’ he said.

“There was no money, or not a lot, coming in. Not long ago Hartlepool was a League One club and off the field it’s probably still being ran like that, that’s why it’s ended up where it is. In that respect, big changes will have to be made and there will be redundancies – it’s no secret.

“The money the business is losing at the moment is not sustainable, no-one has that sort of money to pump in each year and not at this level.

“We have a three-year plan. When Jeff and the Supporters’ Trust came to see me I said we needed a minimum three-year plan so that in six months’ time we would not be sat here again.

“Taking over the club is the easy bit, keeping it going and making it a success is the hard part – how we sustain it, and where we go.’’