THE SPECTRE of administration looms large over Hartlepool United.

The club, up for sale after Sage Investments and benefactor John Blackledge last month announced their funding was coming to an end, is in a desperate situation.

Wages, for both playing and non-playing staff are due on January 25, and the club has to find around £200,000 as a tax bill is also due in the next 16 days.

If not, then administrators could be called in with the National League club on its knees.

When the club was officially up for sale last month, the club’s chairwoman Pam Duxbury was able to secure the necessary funds to pay staff.

Her appeal for new investors was done with the aim of securing the finance to pay the wages due this month.

As it stands, those funds are not in place, and there appears little prospect of it happening.

The club’s office staff and football management were called to a meeting on Monday afternoon, with the prospect raised of job cuts and reductions in pay.

Six possible buyers came forward. Each has had to prove proof of funding to the tune of £3m to weed out timewasters.

However, as of last night there were no clear options on the table, although two overseas consortiums are yet to rule themselves out of the running.

Duxbury was called to a meeting with Hartlepool Borough Council leaders at the Civic Centre yesterday, when the situation was discussed in the hope of finding an answer. Those talks are understood to have been positive and will be on going in the coming days.

"The council is hugely supportive of the club and they absolutely understand the importance of the club to the town and the revenue it generates and the people it brings to the town. That's money that is all being spent in Hartlepool,’’ she said after announcing the club was up for sale.

“They've been very supportive and want the club to remain in its current format, and want to see it succeed. That's demonstrated by them putting the asset community value on the ground. They are absolutely determined that that land will only ever be used for the football club.’’

Since Sage and Blackledge took control of the club from former chairman Gary Coxall and JPNG last summer, they have spent around £1.8m.

Duxbury revealed there has been a large distraction from ‘legacy debts’ – costs incurred following the departure of Coxall.

Duxbury, brought in by Coxall a little over 12 months ago and who took over her role as the head of the club, added of her tenure: "It’s certainly been a rollercoaster. You're not asking me to pick the team, you're not asking me for tactics. Aside from the actual games what goes on at the club is a business. We are a business and need to operate sustainably - commercial, food, room hire. It’s all those things that go on the 340 days we are not playing football.

"The potential is massive. What I hear from players and people around the club, the facilities we've got are great. It’s trying to attract the players who want to come - we're in the National League but we still look like a Football League club. That's the feel I've tried to keep around the club and help us fight for promotion."

The club, since dropping out of the Football League, has maintained a large squad of players.

But results and performances under Craig Harrison have been disappointing and there is little hope of a swift return to the Football League. They are currently winless in seven games and are floundering in 15th spot in the table.

Harrison has been under fire from fed-up supporters, who expected better this season. Pools have only won eight games in the National League, and were knocked out of the FA Trophy at the first round stage by Workington.

Players will be moving on this month to reduce the football wage bill.

Jonathan Franks signed only a short-term deal when he signed in the summer and his contract is unlikely to be renewed with a move to York City in the pipeline.

Scott Harrison is to be moved on, while Preston, as revealed in The Northern Echo, are ready to sign teenage striker Connor Simpson in a £65,000 deal, but face strong competition from Wolves.