RAJ SINGH, the former Darlington owner, has completed his takeover of Hartlepool United.

Singh, who has formed a consortium along with the club’s president Jeff Stelling, has been awaiting clearance from the National League after passing the FA fit and proper persons test.

They take over from John Blackledge and Sage Investments. The future of former chairwoman Pam Duxbury has yet to be confirmed, but it is understood she will not have a role to play at the club.

Singh is the new chairman with immediate effect. Craig Hignett, the former Pools boss and coach, is returning to Victoria Park as Director of Football.

“I am extremely proud to become the Chairman of a club with such a rich history and a passionate and loyal fanbase,” said Singh.

“We know that this is the first time that this club has been outside of the Football League and, first and foremost, our target must be to get back there as soon as possible.

“I am pleased that the efforts over the last three months have brought this together but I know that the real hard work starts now.’’

Singh, who will be at Victoria Park for Saturday’s game with Torquay, has been a regular at Pools’ games of late.

Matthew Bates is in caretaker command and he spoke with Singh and Hignett on Friday, with the chance to put his case across for the permanent job after he managed to stave off the threat of relegation.

Bates won the National League manager of the month award for March after a run of three wins and two draws.

Singh added: “We’re already looking at making the appointment of a new manager and we met with Matthew Bates earlier on Friday to discuss it with him.

“It was only fair that we did that to allow Matthew to put his case forward on the back of the results achieved in recent weeks to secure our place in the National League.

“We will be talking to other people about the vacancy as well because we have to make sure we get the right man for the job and let him get on with it as soon as possible.

“The club can’t afford to be left behind in terms of player recruitment or preparations for the new season so we have to act swiftly and decisively on that appointment.’’

And Singh added: “I would like to thank all fans for their support and encourage you to keep right behind the team and the Club as we look to move forward with purpose and ambition.”