Acun Ilicali's fulfils his 'big dream' as long-awaited Hull City takeover is officially completed

WELCOME: Acun Ilicali poses with a fan before the game against Blackburn Rovers, his first as ownerWELCOME: Acun Ilicali poses with a fan before the game against Blackburn Rovers, his first as owner
WELCOME: Acun Ilicali poses with a fan before the game against Blackburn Rovers, his first as owner
Turkish businessman and television personality Acun Ilicali has finally completed his takeover of Hull City.

When official confirmation came at 6.16pm on Wednesday, it brought to an end a long drawn-out affair.

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Ilicali, whose company Acun Medya have done the deal, said he had "fulfilled one of my biggest dreams today."

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He added: "We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City. We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans. I would like to thank Allam family for the friendship and sincerity they have shown during this process. I genuinely believe that we will achieve success with the amazing fans of this beautiful city.”

Previous owner Assem Allam put the club on the market in April 2014 in the wake of considerable disenchantment.

Ilicali's interest in buying the Championship club became known in the summer, and at the end of October Hull announced they were in a period of exclusivity with him, but it has taken until now for the deal to be signed off.

The 52-year-old is a Fenerbahce supporter who owns a host of television channels and production companies and presents Turkey's version of The Voice. He bought a stake over less than 25 per cent in Dutch Eredivise club Fortuna Sittard in June 2020, but walked away in April amid reports he was frustrated at not having more of an influence.

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Ilicali attended January's FA Cup third-round tie with Everton, when the Tigers took their Premier League opponents to extra-time.

Ilicali has had a director of football in place since before Christmas ready to come in once he took over. Former agent Tan Kesler attended December's draw with Bristol City, and with the transfer window only open until 11pm on January 31, he will be expected to start work straight away.

When Ilicali attended the game against Everton, he was joined by former Sunderland, Notts County and Scunthorpe United chief executive Jim Rodwell and ex-Caykur Rizespor and Kasimpasa midfielder Merthan Acil.

It seems unlikely coach Grant McCann will have a long-term future at the club. The Northern Irishman, who has been in charge since he left Doncaster Rovers in the summer of 2019, has been quite open in the fact there have been no conversations between him and Ilicali about what the future holds for him, which would suggest not very much.

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Allam has lived in East Yorkshire since 1968 and bought the club in December 2010 as one of a number of moves to try to give something back to the region. He delivered two promotions to the Premier League and a first FA Cup final - lost to Arsenal after extra-time in 2014 - which in turn put them in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League for the first time.

But his ham-fisted attempts to change the name of the club to Hull Tigers - refusing to accept defeat after he was rebuffed the first time - came to characterise his regime more than any on-field success.

Fans began to boycott the club in protest at his ownership and inevitably once he decided to sell the club, investment dried up, yet it has taken nearly eight years to find a buyer willing to meet his asking price.

In January 2020, Allam sold Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, between them the scorers of two thirds of the club's league goals at that stage, on deadline day. Bowen's £20m move to West Ham United only went through after the deadline, offering no chance to reinvest. Eighth in the table and only a point outside the play-off places on New Year's Day, they were relegated in bottom place at the end of the Covid-19-delayed season.

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Winning the League One title the following year did little to redeem Allam or McCann - the coach his son, Ehab, now in charge of day-to-day operations - stood by in the eyes of supporters.

Ilicali's arrival ought to reinvigorate a demoralised fanbase and lead to reduced investment in the squad.

Ehab Allam said he was "happy and proud to be leaving Hull City on a strong and stable financial footing. During our tenure, we have worked hard to create a sustainable model and successful academy set-up, giving the club the foundations it needs for the future. The ability to develop and trade homegrown talent is an integral part to a sustainable football club, and we look forward to seeing more and more players follow that pathway at Hull City.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the last 11 years or so, but we will take some very fond memories with us.

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“The time has now come for a new owner to take up the mantle and I’d like to wish Acun and his team the very best for the future. We have taken a very business-led approach to running the club and I truly hope Acun can rebuild the relationship with the fanbase and also bring back the success on the pitch that fans crave and deserve.”

Hull loaned money from the Football League last season to get them through the pandemic and have been under an embargo limiting them to free transfers, loans, and a 25-man squad since, but it is understood the debt has been repaid as part of the buyout, so restrictions on signings will be lifted.

Confirmation came an hour and a half before Hull hosted Blackburn Rovers in the Championship. They go into the game four points above the relegation zone, having played a game more than 22nd-placed Peterborough United.

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