HARTLEPOOL UNITED have a major financial shortfall to make up after dropping out of the Football League.

And part of the £350,000 they lose as part of the solidarity payment all EFL clubs get from the Premier League could be mostly raked in with the sale of Nathan Thomas.

The attacker signed a new contract last season and, despite disappointing in the second half of the season after coming back from injury, he remains coveted.

Sheffield United and Leeds United could be about to offer him a move to the Championship next summer.

The Blades, newly-promoted from League One, are understood to be ready to offer around £300,000 for the one-time Sunderland trainee, who is now at his sixth club aged 22.

And Leeds have also been keeping tabs on Thomas, who missed three months of action this season with a groin injury and never hit the levels he managed in the first-half of the season.

Thomas was expected to have a key role in the last two games as Pools fought for their Football League status. But he was subdued in defeat at Cheltenham, being replaced after an hour and infuriating the four-man coaching staff on the bench.

Thomas then said he wasn’t fit to play in the final game of the season on Saturday, as Pools beat Doncaster.

Pools will still get funding from the Football League in parachute payments, a separate award to the lost Premier League pot.

They will get 100 per cent of their regular EFL sum in the first year following relegation and then 50 per cent in the second season outside the Football League, unless they are promoted back to League Two.

With crowds set to fall and away attendances to be minimal at Victoria Park next season in the National League, the club will be spending time in the coming weeks trying to adapt accordingly.

Gary Coxall, who stood down as chairman last week, wants to sell his 50 per cent share of the club. Finding a quick buyer, however, could be problematic.

Decisions also need to be made over the future of the players.

Without a manager and with a chief executive in Pam Duxbury whose football knowledge is limited, the retained list has to be drawn up.

It is understood that now falls under the remit of Paul Watson, the club’s head of recruitment. He is also likely to be leading the hunt for a new manager. He offered the job Dave Jones in January.

That was ahead of Sam Collins, the club’s then Under-21 coach, who is again in the frame and he would like to get Ronnie Moore back to the club as director of football alongside him.

Moore briefly managed in the National League this season with Eastleigh.

Gary Brabin, who has managed in the National League successfully with Cambridge, Luton and Tranmere is also keen on the task of leading Pools back into the Football League at the first attempt.

Former Grimsby boss Marcus Bignot is interested and he watched Pools lose at Cheltenham ten days ago.

Matthew Bates replaced Jones for the last two games and he got a huge lift from the players, culminating in Saturday’s victory.

The role is likely to be too soon for him and he said: “The message was to get the fans onside with us and they stayed with us. One thing I’ve learned in two weeks in charge is that if we give the crowd our all they will back us.

“They appreciated the players in relegation – I’m not sure if that is right or wrong.

“It’s hard to look at the positives now. The message is we will bounce back.

“I’ve had two weeks in charge and it would have been different if I had longer in charge. We said that, the players said that, but we only had two games.’’