HARTLEPOOL UNITED have announced they are actively seeking investment from both supporters and businesses to help safeguard its future.

While football – especially outside of the Football League – is a long way from returning, the club is, effectively, being mothballed with players on furlough.

Supporters have started an on-line fund-raising campaign to boost Dave Challinor’s budget and that has passed the £14,000 mark.

But the club now wants to attract outside investment to boost the club’s infrastructure, with a share scheme launched aiming to raise £200,000 in the first year, with supporters, fans groups and local businesses invited to contribute.

A club statement read: “The Equity Participation Scheme is intended to extend beyond the raising of funds and is essentially a community movement which will bring fans closer to the operation of the club by way of recruitment of volunteers which will assist in keeping the costs of running the club to a minimum but almost as important will create a feeling of joint purpose and togetherness as we work together to protect the club for the long term.’’

At the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, the club made a number of staff redundant.

The club is without a secretary, media manager and commercial staff off the pitch, while the kitman, physio and a fitness coach have also been removed from the wage bill. In addition, the club’s temporary matchday staff were all recently released.

A recruitment drive for volunteers is to be launched, with the idea that they will replace part-time workers who assisted on matchdays.

A club statement added: “To date the chairman has invested over £2 million in the club to sustain losses which have been the reality of Hartlepool United over many years, and the recent very difficult decisions regarding redundancies and cost savings have been designed to address the sustainability of the club at National League level while retaining the ambition of reaching the EFL.

“The chairman has borne the responsibility of supporting the club financially acknowledging Jeff Stelling’s contribution but the idea from the very start was that it was always the aim and intention to attract partnership investment to share the burden. We now have a business which has dealt with all of the historical problems inherited, which has a reduced cost base and the right manager in place but even then as long as we remain in the National League will require money to be injected each year to remain competitive.

“In addition the chairman outlined that he is looking at ways in which individuals who may be looking to invest larger sums may involve themselves in the club either as part of the EPS or by other means and will consider further thoughts and ideas in this regard.

“Hartlepool United is vital to its town and this announcement is made in the spirit of protecting one of the towns’ most important assets, not in a moment of crisis but in an effort to avoid crisis and to make a plan for the future which allows Raj Singh to continue his financial support of the club but also to share the burden of doing so.

“We firmly believe that a collective approach will ensure a thriving Hartlepool United which has finally corrected the financial challenges and is fit for purpose in challenging for promotion whilst not risking the club’s existence.’’