AN ambitious plea to raise £250,000 has been launched by the Hartlepool United Supporters’ Trust.

Pools are facing the prospect of administration, ten-point deduction, relegation at least one division and even liquidation in the coming weeks and months.

And, while caretaker boss Matthew Bates takes his team to Aldershot tonight after the planned game on Saturday was postponed, the off-field battle is more sinister by the week.

Since the club was officially put up for sale on December 22, the interest has been minimal. Two major sticking points which have put potential investors off are the debt owned to former benefactor John Blackledge and Sage Investments and the threat of possible litigation in the direction of the club.

A deal for the former - around £1.8m – has apparently been agreed with Blackledge to be repaid over time from player sales, cup runs, promotions, bonus payments and the like.

And the sole player now appears to be the consortium set up by club president Jeff Stelling and a Teesside businessman. Last week, Stelling appealed for at least another £600,000 on top of their £1.2m to make their efforts viable.

The Trust hope their campaign - #savejeffsclub – will help raise the profile and attract some big players to the race to save the club.

A Trust statement reads: “We all know that the club is running at a significant monthly loss and Jeff has confirmed that the consortium funds are being raised only to be used for the running of the club, with sufficient funding required to cover the time to restructure the club into a sustainable operation which will take at least two more seasons.

“This weekend he has told us that there is no fee to purchase the club and that a deal in principle has finally been agreed with Sage to relieve the new owners of the significant debts.

“However, a further £600k is urgently required to add to the £1.2 million that has already been secured. In Jeff’s opinion this is the only option that is even close to being viable in the time available.’’

The Trust campaign, however, is the fourth fund-raising campaign directed at fans this year.

An on-line Just Giving page set up by supporter Rachel Cartwright raised some £86,000 and paid for staff wages in February and running costs. She has since joined forces with the Friends of HUFC 1908 to try and raise £100,000 to safeguard the club.

It currently has £3,865 and £3,680 of that is from events left over from her previous campaign.

The Trust has also started a separate fighting fund campaign, aiming to raise £100,000.

If any takeover fail and the club is liquidated, then the Trust would help establish a phoenix club, starting in the fifth tier of non-League football. With Victoria Park being council-owned, a new club would at least have a permanent home.

With so many different fund-raising campaigns, big splits in the support between individuals and groups, there seems little hope of the Trust’s figure being reached.

It would appear Hartlepool is not United when it comes to saving the football club.

Pools will set off for Aldershot this morning – overnight stays are now off the agenda.

Bates and his squad trained indoors again yesterday and he will have Liam Donnelly back in the squad after ankle trouble. The club confirmed yesterday that Jack Munns is back in training following an operation to remove a mouth tumour.

Bates said: “Liam has trained and he comes back into contention, but for Jack Munns this weekend probably comes around too soon.

“He is back with the main squad but is still not quite ready to be involved.

“I would expect, with a full week's training under his belt he will be back next weekend.

“He just needs to get that sharpness back having been out for quite a while.’’

Bates added: “It has not been easy as everyone will know. The weather has made my first full week taking this team very difficult but the lads have been excellent after last weekend's defeat.

“We have done a lot of work in the domes at Seaton Carew, which has been good. A lot of tactical work.

“We have working on how to stop Aldershot because we know just how good a team they are.

“What we want to do is turn their main positives into negatives. They like to play the ball out from the back and pass it around. In fact, I'd say they are the best passing side in the division.

“Getting something will be tough but if we stick to our gameplan we know we can do it.’’