English Premiership

Hull City subject to takeover talk

2016-05-30 11:54
Hull City (File)

Atletico Madrid midfielder Yannick Carrasco ran past all his team-mates to celebrate his UEFA Champions League final goal against Real Madrid with kissing his girlfriend, Noémie Huppert.

United Kingdom - Potential purchasers of Hull City will have to dig considerably deeper into their pockets after the club secured their Premier League return by winning what was billed as the most lucrative game in world soccer.

Saturday's 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday sparked mass celebrations among tens of thousands of City fans at Wembley although the long-term supporter who arguably did most to bring about promotion - and may now benefit by selling an asset that soared in value overnight - was not there to see it.

Manager Steve Bruce dedicated the win to the club's owner, Egyptian-British businessman Assem Allam, who is reportedly seriously ill.

At most clubs, a backer who had pumped in around £200m of his own money would be feted but Hull have been gripped by a very public dispute sparked by the owner's plans to first rename the club Hull Tigers and then introduce a membership scheme for next season.

The Humberside club has been up for sale for two years with reports circulating of an imminent takeover by an unnamed American consortium, who will presumably now view the club as an even more attractive investment.

The Football League said Saturday's game was officially worth at least £163m to the winners, a figure made up by adding the amount for finishing bottom of next year's Premier League to two seasons of parachute payments paid to relegated clubs.

"When you're a Premier League club, you're global. But in the Championship you're local and relying on gate receipts," said Allam last year. "If I left tomorrow, the club would go bust and I don't want that. I want to stop the club relying on me."

The challenge for whoever takes over is to turn Hull into more than a yo-yo club. Their record of promotion in 2008, relegation in 2010, promotion in 2013, relegation in 2015 and now promotion again suggests they are too good for the Championship but not quite Premier League standard.

The same critique could be applied to another promoted team, Burnley, who also return to the Premier League next season after one season, and Norwich City, who have been relegated after one year in the top flight.

Manager Bruce, who has now overseen two of Hull's promotions and one relegation, knows that the uncertainty over ownership must be quickly resolved if the club are to become a more durable top-flight outfit.

"If we do things properly, then we can improve the club no end," said Bruce, who has yet to confirm whether he will still be in charge next season. "We've got to build the infrastructure for a club like ours and the size of it. Let's hope we can invest wisely.

"It's obviously my job to make sure we choose wisely to give ourselves a fighting chance."

"I'll sit down with the owners. It's not often you walk away from the Premier League - that's where I want to manage," Bruce told the BBC.

"But I have to be given certain assurances that we're all moving in the right direction. I keep hearing too many stories that there's a takeover imminent. We'll see what develops," added the 55-year-old.

Only twice in the past 14 seasons have at least one of the three promoted sides not gone straight down although the success of this year's champions Leicester City two years after their own promotion provides a template for success that many will seek to emulate.

The new £5.14-billion, three-year domestic television rights deal for the Premier League, which kicks in next season, may also help, with the smaller clubs under less pressure to sell their best players.

Read more on:    hull city  |  english premiership  |  soccer


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