Bruce relying on high-earners’ exit to implement Tigers’ plans

A MEETING between Hull City’s owners and manager Steve Bruce designed to plot a path forward for the new season has been described as “positive” by a club insider.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce knows the players he wants to sign to help them attempt to retrieve their Premier League status at the first attempt but first he needs high wage earners to move on (Picture: PA Wire).
Hull City manager Steve Bruce knows the players he wants to sign to help them attempt to retrieve their Premier League status at the first attempt but first he needs high wage earners to move on (Picture: PA Wire).

The Tigers have spent the summer attempting to deal with the fall-out of relegation from the Premier League.

With income levels set to slump now back in the Championship and big earners such as Nikica Jelavic, Dame N’Doye and Abel Hernandez yet to find a new club despite making it clear they want to leave, Hull’s own attempts to bring in new faces have been hamstrung.

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So much so that Bruce is the only manager in the Championship still to make a signing with the new season just 15 days away.

A meeting was scheduled yesterday afternoon between Bruce, who was in Portugal last week for a pre-season training camp, and the owners following the return of Assem and Ehab Allam from a short break.

The Yorkshire Post has been told a wide-ranging number of subjects were discussed, from the on-going improvements to the training ground through to possible transfer targets.

Interest in the club’s existing players – Watford have joined Norwich City in wanting Robbie Brady but with a preference to include some form of swap deal, while Crystal Palace are understood to have enquired after £8m rated James Chester – was also on the agenda.

A club insider says all parties left the near three-hour meeting, which had begun at 2pm, in a “positive” frame of mind.

The most pressing matter for Bruce, of course, will be making the additions he feels necessary to mount a promotion challenge.

Ryan Taylor is one target he has in mind, along with another player to have been at Wigan Athletic with Bruce in Wilson Palacios.

The Tigers’ chief is also keen on Southend United goalkeeper Daniel Bentley and Brentford forward Andre Gray.

A stumbling block, however, has been that the high-earners who want to leave are still on the books.

Should, for instance, those same players still be at the KC come the end of the transfer window then any further additions would leave Hull in very real danger of breaking Financial Fair Play rules during the coming season.

This would then lead to sanctions from the Football League, such as the transfer embargo that Leeds United were placed under last January.

The best scenario for all, of course, is the wantaway players getting fixed up as soon as possible with Besiktas tracking N’Doye, Napoli showing interest in Hernandez and Jelavic on the radar of Greek champions Olympiakos.

Offloading three strikers would, with Yannick Sagbo and Tom Ince having also left this summer, leave Hull badly needing reinforcements up front, but it would also surely give Bruce the green light to start making his planned additions.

Meanwhile, Hull’s opening day opponents, Huddersfield Town, are anxiously waiting to learn if former striker Jordan Rhodes –once a target of Bruce in the East Yorkshire club’s Premier League days – could be on the move.

The Blackburn Rovers striker, who left the Terriers in 2012 for £8m, has been linked with a possible switch to Middlesbrough.

A bid of £14m by Boro has been reported in the national press, though sources in Teesside have suggested that figure is inflated.

Either way, with Watford also showing interest it seems that Blackburn will receive more than the £8m they paid to Huddersfield, whose interest comes from the sell-on clause inserted in that 2012 transfer.

Set at 20 per cent of any profit over and above the £8m fee paid, Town could be in for a substantial windfall if a bidding war breaks out for a striker who has netted 73 times in 134 games for Rovers.

The Yorkshire club would also be due the remaining balance of the £8m – which is understood to have been staggered over four years – at the moment Rhodes leaves Blackburn.

Elsewhere in the Championship, Sheffield Wednesday’s new pricing structure has led to the supporters’ trust of opening day opponents Bristol City collectively deciding not to attend the August 8 fixture.

The Owls last week revealed a new eight-tier structure of admission prices with Category A* including a top price of £52 for non-members. Bristol City’s visit has been granted Category B status, meaning away fans will pay £39.

A statement on behalf of the newly-promoted Robins’ Supporters Trust said: “It is going to hurt to do this, but the board have collectively decided not to attend this game.

“Nobody is calling for a boycott, we just think it is a step too far. We think many City fans will vote likewise and choose not to go.”