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Craig Hignett suffers surprise sacking at Hartlepool United

Craig Hignett and Ged McNamee

National League Hartlepool United have sacked manager Craig Hignett.

Pools release a short statement at lunchtime on Thursday confirming the departure of the former Middlesbrough striker and his number two Ged McNamee, pictured together on the touchline at Victoria Park.

Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss at Stockport looks to have triggered the club’s decision with Hartlepool in 16th spot in the table with only 20 points so far from 16 outings.

The Pools statement read: “Hartlepool United has today made the decision to terminate the contracts of Craig Hignett and assistant manager Ged McNamee.

“A more detailed statement will follow this afternoon but suffice to say this incredibly difficult decision has been made with a heavy heart, as both men have worked tirelessly for the club in the last eighteen months.”

Hignett returned to the club for a third time in March 2018 as director of football before taking the reins again as manager in January when Richard Money was sacked.

After his first spell at the club as Colin Cooper’s assistant before leaving for Middlesbrough in March 2014, Hignett returned as manager for the first time in February 2016. He was sacked almost a year later in January 2017 with Pools struggling in League Two.

Hignett was in the stands for Wednesday night’s defeat after being banned by the Football Association on Monday for two games after accepting the misconduct charge.

He’d been charged for using language that was “threatening in nature” to officials during the club’s 2-1 defeat at home to Dover Athletic in September. The fixture generated unwanted headlines in the UK and around the world when it was marred by allegations of racist abuse directed at a number of visijng players.

Hartlepool United fans came together to condemn the alleged racist abuse within days. As they watched their side draw 1-1 with Chesterfield three days later, hundreds of supporters held up banners produced by the club declaring ‘Love Pools, Hate Racism’.

The initiative won praise from throughout football as well as from anti-racism campaigners at Kick It Out.

After “utterly” condemning the trouble at Victoria Park following the allegations of racist abuse, National League bosses have also vowed to step up efforts to clamp down in Non-League’s top flight.

Image courtesy of Mark Fletcher/Shutter Press

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