RAJ SINGH has accused Fulham of adopting tactics that “could have sent Hartlepool to the wall” after the Championship leaders were forced to pay a six-figure compensation sum over their signing of Luca Murphy.

Murphy joined Pools at the age of nine, progressing through the club’s youth development system to the points where he was attracting the attention of a number of teams, including Fulham.

In January 2019, with Murphy aged 17, Fulham agreed a fee for the player, following which he was given permission to spent time with the Cottagers. However, Fulham subsequently withdrew from the transfer, stating that Murphy had not met their standards.

The defender returned to the North-East, at which point Pools claim his “previously-exemplary behaviour” changed to such an extent that the club felt compelled to agree to the mutual termination of his contract in March 2019.

Eleven days after that termination, the youngster joined Fulham on a two-year deal, with the London club subsequently refusing to accept that any compensation was due to Hartlepool.

That remained their position for three years, but a Professional Football Compensation Committee yesterday ruled that Hartlepool were due a six-figure sum from the Cottagers.

“I’m delighted we have finally been granted this compensation,” said Singh. “The circumstances and timeline around Luca’s departure speak for itself and we always considered that compensation was due. Luca was a player that was with us from the age of nine.

“I am, however, bitterly disappointed at the manner in which Fulham have conducted their business. As a club, we did everything we possibly could to resolve this amicably for nearly three years and we’ve been ignored, seen delays and had technicalities thrown at us throughout.

“At the final hour, Fulham even looked to offload players that they didn’t want as an alternative to paying due compensation.

“The compensation is probably a drop in the ocean for a big club like Fulham, but it is a large amount for Hartlepool United, which at the time was a non-league club. It was also withheld during an incredibly difficult period that included the Covid pandemic. That approach could literally have sent our club to the wall.”

Murphy’s time as a Fulham player did not go to plan as he was released last summer without having made a single senior appearance for the club.

“Lee (Rust) and our legal team have had to pursue this claim to the fullest extent to get this result,” added Singh. “On that note, it is also important to highlight that despite us winning this case, we had to spend a large amount on fees and management time that, under current regulations, cannot be reclaimed.

“That has to change. Undoubtedly, those costs and resources are a barrier for smaller clubs that don’t have in-house legal teams like Fulham.

"It will mean that many cases are going unchecked which is just wrong and against the spirit of the game. It’s something I felt that we had to stand up to as a club.”