HULL CITY manager Steve Bruce last night insisted the Tigers will, if the worst happens, be able to weather the financial fall-out of relegation after revealing that his squad’s wages will be slashed by up to half if the club drops out of the Premier League.
The Tigers travel to Crystal Palace today determined to end a six-game winless run to breathe fresh life into their fight for survival.
If, however, Hull lose in south London then it is inevitable they will drop into the bottom three due to Burnley and Leicester City, two of the three clubs below Bruce’s men in the table, meeting at Turf Moor.
That would leave Hull facing an uphill battle to stay up due to a five-game run-in that includes meetings with four of the top six.
“The last thing we want to talk about is being prepared for the worst-case scenario,” said Bruce. “We have as good a chance as any of getting out of this.
“But, from day one, we have put a policy in place that we have stuck to and that is (if City are relegated) everyone concerned takes a huge reduction in salary.
“The club has had a really, really stringent policy so that if we do get relegated, it doesn’t fall into drastic times, which a lot of clubs do.
“We have all signed contracts, me included, that if we are not in this league, we don’t get the wages that the Premier League demands. That is only fair.
“Most players take a 40 and 50 per cent reduction in their salary, which is key. So, we are all realistic to know that, yes, we want to avoid going into the Championship, but we have made sensible provisions.
“Our budget is pretty stringent, so that the club doesn’t leak into the realms it was before and I think that is very important for a club like ours.”
When the East Riding club last slid out of the top flight in 2010, a financial meltdown – and potential liquidation – was only avoided when Adam Pearson, after answering an SOS from the previous regime, brought the Allam family on board six months later.
The lack of a relegation clause in the contracts of big earners such as record signing Jimmy Bullard, who was on just shy of £50,000 per week at the KC, caused many of the problems five years ago. Clearly, it is a lesson that the current regime heeded.
Bruce added: “Without the owners bailing it out after the last relegation, there might not be a club. That is how down the line it was. This time, the club is protected and ensures we won’t be in a position that we have seen with a lot of other clubs.”
Asked if the possibility of losing a huge portion of their salaries can act as an incentive, Bruce joked: “Absolutely – I think the players need reminding of that!”
He then added: “Seriously, what we all think of is the failure, not the money. That is certainly the case with me.
“It is not in my psyche to think I am going to lose half of my wages. It is the failure, not being able to stay here in the Premier League, which will affect us most.”
Relegation from the top flight costs clubs tens of millions in lost revenue, which often means cost-cutting right across the board rather than just in terms of the playing staff.
Bruce, however, is adamant that Hull’s foresight in reducing salary costs among the football staff if the worst happens means, again, that the club will cope.
“Inevitable, there are going to be casualties,” said Bruce, who signed a new three-year contract recently. “But I don’t envisage people losing their jobs behind the scenes.
“It is vitally important to ensure that doesn’t happen because people have been here a long time.
“Their wages are insignificant compared with a player. I would rather let a player go and keep 12 staff. Usually, one player is the cost of 12 staff. As long as I am in charge that won’t happen.”
Considering the high stakes for both the club and the staff, Hull need a break.
Any kind of reward today from Selhurst Park, a ground where Hull have not won in three decades, would be gratefully accepted and set Bruce’s side up for what he believes will be a crucial run of three consecutive home games against Liverpool, Arsenal and Burnley.
“We are under no illusions about our fixtures,” said Bruce, whose side also host Manchester United on the final day.
“We know it will be difficult. But I do think having four out of five at home could be key.
“I know how difficult it is to win away from home so your best chance is at home.”
Match preview: Page 4.