GIVEN that they are enjoying their most successful season since dropping out of the Football League, the players and staff of Hartlepool United should be in a celebratory mood. Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Solihull Moors, which was achieved in the face of sub-zero conditions that required a Herculean effort to ensure the game was not called off, left Pools sitting second in the National League table, eight points adrift of league leaders Torquay United with two games in hand.

The fear, though, is that all of their efforts will prove in vain. The vote to decide whether the National League season will be played to a conclusion or declared null and void stands on a knife-edge, with a final decision promised by the end of the month.

Pools are one of the few National League sides to have publicly stated that they want to play on, but depending on how a number of their rivals vote, the fate of the remaining three months of the season could be taken out of their hands.

The vote is a complex one, with teams in the three divisions of the National League (National League, National League North and National League South) first deciding whether to act as a collective or allow different decisions for different tiers. If a tiered approach is adopted, which would require 75 per cent support, the numbers suggest the National League will continue as it is estimated that 15 of the 23 clubs want to play on. If a collective model is voted through, it becomes more likely that all three leagues will be curtailed.

In the meantime, matches are being staged as usual, and it is to Hartlepool manager Dave Challinor’s credit that he has got his players focused on the job in hand despite the huge uncertainty.

Because of their league position, Pools have been accused of self-interest when it comes to voting to carry on. It is true that they have not had a better chance of reclaiming their Football League status since dropping out of League Two in 2017, but Challinor insists there are wider issues at stake.

“We’ve been pretty straightforward in terms of our thoughts from the start, and that’s not changed,” said the Pools boss. “It’s easy to say, ‘Well, they’re bound to want to carry on because they’re up there competing’, but while some teams may feel null and void in the best way forward, we want to continue and try to make football a big normality in such unpredictable times.”

Continuing to play in empty stadiums will have a major financial impact on Pools, with questions over the funding streams available to National League clubs having brought the current crisis to a head. With that in mind, Challinor is relieved to have the ongoing support of his chairman, Raj Singh.

“There are things behind the scenes where you don’t know what position we’re in as a club and what sort of position the chairman is in because, obviously, from his perspective, there’s been a huge financial burden,” he said.

“His main business is involved in care homes, and it’s been very well-publicised how all of that has transpired over the last 12 months.

“It was great for us to get the backing of the chairman, with the fact of where we’re at, which is a stable and sustainable place at the moment. We want to be able to crack on with the hope that, not too far on the horizon, supporters will be allowed back into the ground.”