MARTIN Jesper has been confirmed as Hartlepool United’s acting executive director, in effect replacing former chief executive Mark Maguire.

As The Northern Echo revealed yesterday, Jesper, the former Darlington chief executive, has been appointed by chairman Raj Singh.

He left his post with Darlington in 2015 after three challenging and successful years before moving to Hearts in the SPL.

Jesper has been in touch with club staff at Victoria Park this week to get a head start on the work ahead.

A club statement reads: “He will have responsibility for the club’s strategic, operational and stakeholder engagement activities, reporting directly to the Board of Directors.’’

Following a cull of Victoria Park staff in recent weeks, Jesper has a clean slate to work from during a time when the club is effectively mothballed with players on furlough leave while there is no sign of football returning in the National League.

Tellingly, the chairman is looking for an improvement in commercial operation, an area in which Pools have struggled in recent years.

The club statement reads: “Martin originally qualified as a chartered accountant, however over the last 15 years he has become an established business transformation professional of aspirational, yet underperforming, organisations – familiar with the short and medium-term challenges currently faced by the club.

“For the last eight years, Martin has been actively involved in professional football. He has held senior executive roles at Darlington FC and then at Heart of Midlothian FC – with a range of responsibilities that has covered all areas of football club activities.

“Since leaving Hearts in 2017, he has completed a two-year MSc in Sports Directorship (Leading High Performance Sporting Organisations) and continued to advise a number of professional clubs across the league pyramid.’’

Singh said: “Martin has been providing constructive challenge to the club’s short and medium term plans over the last 3 months. His combined business, sporting and leadership expertise are ideally placed to help the club through the challenges that lie ahead and I am sure that everyone will support him in his role”.

Jesper added: “This is an exciting, yet hugely challenging, role. Alongside every other club, Hartlepool United faces a period of immense uncertainty and I look forward to working with everyone connected with the club to help create a sustainable club model and performance improvements both on and off the pitch.”