VICE CHAIRMAN Ehab Allam believes the lure of winning promotion will be strong enough to persuade Hull City’s star names to remain at the KC Stadium in the January transfer window even if Premier League clubs come calling.
The Tigers have avoided the hangover that can often accompany relegation to top the Championship.
With a squad that is the envy of most managers in the second tier, City look a good bet to win an instant return.
In fact, Steve Bruce’s biggest potential problem is likely to be holding on to the players who have played a leading role in Hull’s impressive start to the season.
Tom Huddlestone and Ahmed Elmohamady remain on the radar of several clubs, while a fit-again Mohamed Diame is sure to be an attractive proposition for teams needing a lift in the second half of the season.
Likewise, Abel Hernandez is finally showing the form that persuaded Hull to pay £10m for the Uruguayan international in the summer of 2014 and continues to covet interest from Italy.
Michael Dawson and Jake Livermore have also impressed in an opening third of the campaign that has yielded 34 points from 16 games, while just this week Bournemouth were linked with a possible £3m move for Tigers defender Curtis Davies.
That has put fans of the East Riding outfit on red alert as to what could happen once the transfer window reopens in the New Year.
Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, vice-chairman Allam said: “I actually think the next window will be determined by our position.
“We do have very good players who are of a Premier League quality. And they stayed with us, knowing we are fighting back.
“They have bought into the club’s philosophy, they like it here. And they can see the club has every intention of fighting back.
“That is why, if we are still in the promotion battle come January, I can’t see why any of those players would want to leave us. Even to go back to the Premier League.”
City’s position is complicated by many of the club’s big names having a buy-out clause in their contracts along with the provision for a wage reduction in the event of relegation that saw every player’s salary fall by 30-50 per cent in the summer.
This leaves the Tigers potentially vulnerable to interest from elsewhere, as was the case last summer when Derby County were able to snap up Tom Ince after meeting the £4.75m price tag written into his contract.
The vast majority of the Hull squad are understood to have similar buy-outs in their own deals but vice chairman Allam remains confident that Bruce’s men will choose to stick around to finish the job of steering the club back to the top flight.
He added: “Even if there is interest from a Premier League club fighting to stay up, what is the sense in going to a club struggling and who could go down in four months?
“Especially when you are at a club that looks to have a very good chance (of winning promotion). Surely that is a better guarantee to be back in the Premier League.
“Leaving could be very short-sighted.
“As long as we are in a strong position in January, I don’t see a risk of losing players.
“Obviously, if we slip and there is a chance of a player getting to the Premier League by moving then that could happen.
“But, at the moment, we are in a good position and I would like to think we will maintain that position all the way through the season. I can’t see any risk of people leaving us in January.”
Whether the resolve of Hull’s key players will be tested in the New Year remains to be seen. For all the speculation of possible bids to trigger buy-out clauses during what was an unsettling summer at the KC, very few turned into firm offers.
January could be different, the second transfer window of the season often seeing clubs in trouble make one last effort to turn things round by splashing the cash.
This could be particularly evident this term due to the impending new £5bn TV contract that kicks off next season as none of the 20 Premier League chairmen want to miss out on such a financial bonanza.
City’s squad may, therefore, prove attractive, especially as Huddlestone, Elmohamady, David Meyler, Allan McGregor, Sone Aluko and Davies are all well into the final year of their contracts.
Bruce, who could include Robert Snodgrass in his squad at Bristol City on Saturday, revealed in October how he is unable to offer fresh terms until there is more clarity over what division the Tigers will be in next season.
It is a necessary approach considering the huge difference in turnover that Hull could expect in the Premier League compared to the Championship. The flipside, of course, is that all six of those players could walk away for free come the end of June.