Exclusive: Lasting legacy key to sale of Hull City

EHAB ALLAM last night revealed how a desire to leave a lasting legacy at Hull City has led to would-be bidders being rebuffed since the club was put up for sale.

Assem Allam and his son, Ehab.

The Championship club, put on the market in the wake of the Allam family’s unsuccessful attempts to re-brand as Hull Tigers, have been locked in talks with several interested parties in recent months.

Vice chairman Allam says those discussions remain “on-going” amid the club’s push for an instant return to the Premier League.

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However, he has also admitted that other potential suitors have been turned away following examination of not only what business plans those hoping to strike a deal have in place but also future levels of investment.

“We think we have done a good job so far to put the club on a good footing,” Allam told The Yorkshire Post. “We want that to grow further so it is important for us that the right ownership is in place to build on the foundations we have put in.

“We haven’t put this money in over the past few years to clean everything up to then sell to anyone. We do want to leave a legacy, that is a very important factor.

“There have been firm offers for the club. And those interested parties constantly tell us that we are the best run club they have looked at. These are people who have looked at other clubs but then shied away because of issues and underlying problems.

“We have had a lot of interest in our club because we have built up that reputation over several years. But, again, we would only let it go to safe hands.

“Background checks are taken on anyone who gets in contact. Only after that, do we entertain any discussions.

“There are so many factors to consider. But, sometimes, it can just be a feeling. Sometimes, it just doesn’t feel right for the club.

“We want the best for the club, whether we do sell or don’t sell. That is our main focus, what is best for the club. It always has been.

“We look at people’s credibility. We have had consortiums interested, we have had individuals interested. Whoever it is, we look at their backing, their plans. And what they are looking to invest in the future.

“Also, we ask ourselves, ‘Why are they wanting to get into football?’ We look at the detail of any plans because we want the club in safe hands.”

The East Riding has been awash with speculation over a potential sale – and the identity of those interested in buying out the Allams’ stake – since the turn of the year.

Former chairman Paul Duffen was strongly linked with one potential bidder, while a couple of weeks ago a suggestion that a sale had already been agreed subject to Hull winning promotion in May was the talk of the KC Stadium faithful.

Asked where the club was at with regards a possible sale, Allam said: “There are ongoing discussions with several parties. I don’t have to go over old ground, but everyone knows the family’s position on the name change and not getting it etcetera, etcetera.

“But we do want the best for the club, regardless of anything that has happened. That is the difference in us being local. We do live here, I was born and raised here. I was born in a house at the end of a road from the stadium.

“It is why we can’t just walk away from something. There are several interested parties and we will wait and see what happens.”

Pressed on whether City being in the Premier League next season – when a new TV deal guaranteeing clubs around £120m kicks in – was a potential deal-maker or breaker, Allam replied: “Everyone has one eye on the potential of a promotion. But not all are dependent.

“What I will say, though, is it is always in the club’s interest to be in the highest division possible because it makes it the most sustainable.”

A desire to make Hull self-sufficient has been evident since the Allams rescued the club from the threat of administration in December, 2010.

After eye-watering losses in the first couple of years, the Tigers’ two seasons in the Premier League brought profits of £9.4m (2013-14) and £11.5m (2014-15) for the football club. In the same period, however, the Stadium Management Company, also owned by the Allams, lost £5m and £800,000 respectively and debt levels, owed to Allamhouse Limited, rose to £77.4m.

The latter of those two surpluses for the club’s holding company, Hull City Tigers Ltd, came despite £42m being spent on transfer fees last season, around half of which had to be found this term due to the way payments are staggered in football.

“We have had to find around £20m this season as part of those transfers, money that with relegation did become an extra burden,” confirmed Allam. “So, we do have losses this year but it will be within Financial Fair Play. As a club, we are pretty much on budget this year. We are also on top of the Championship with lots of positives surrounding the club.”