How Hull City owner Acun Ilicali intends to take Tigers back to the Premier League

ACUN ILICALI’S stay in East Yorkshire on Thursday was of the whirlwind variety.

After jetting in from Turkey, he addressed the media on all manner of subjects relating to Hull City – from incoming transfers, departures and contract talks to a bold new ticketing policy and an offer to take 500 season ticket holders on a luxury holiday at a five-star hotel in Antalya.

“The best five days of their lives,” City’s owner and chairman promised those lucky fans who successfully win through a ballot.

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Flanked by vice-chairman Tan Kesler, the charismatic media mogul may have something of the showman about him, but his heart and life is clearly wrapped up in sport. ‘A crazy guy’ who is crazy about sport, as he puts it.

WELCOME: Hull City owner Acun Ilicali is welcomed to the MKM Stadium by fans ahead of their Championship clash against Blackburn Rovers Picture Tony Johnson

The day before he headed to Hull this week, he watched the under-19s side of his first footballing love Fenerbahce in action. After leaving the Broad Acres, he flew off to attend Miami Heat’s NBA game with Boston Celtics.

A success in his business life, Ilicali is also driven in his quest to take Hull back into the Premier League and wants as many fans as possible to join him on the ride.

It can be dangerous to make predictions in football, but this journey should be a fun one.

He said: “I will try and make you (fans) happy as much as I can. I am full of focus for Hull City.

LEADING MAN: Hull City head coach Shota Arveladze Picture: Bruce Rollinson

“I am not a guy who has (finances from) petrol, natural gas or a big investment company in America. I can say maybe I am not richest, but I am one of the most successful persons in my career.

“There has never been any person in the world where they have come from zero in their business and having a major company after 20 years. I believe that money is not the only way to show everything and I believe passion is more important.

“Now I will be doing more and more as I have the responsibility of a beautiful, big team and me and my team know that.

“I am giving everything and (vice chairman Tan Kesler) is giving more than everything. We are a good team and we will do everything to go to the Premier League, which this team really deserve.

New Hull City owner Acun Ilicali (centre) Picture: Ian Hodgson/PA

“I loved playing football since I was five years old. Maybe I could have been an average player if I played. But you cannot believe how much I am involved in football. I am the ‘crazy guy.’

“I went to Boca v River game in Argentina in the Bombonera. I have been at least six times; my football passion is not normal.”

There is undiluted passion for the beautiful game, but as a club owner, that is now healthily balanced with good sense.

Some of Ilicali’s statements are bold and head-turning, but Hull will not be throwing countless millions on signings in their quest to reach the big time either. Within the parameters of Financial Fair Play, you must be smart.

Where City have a competitive advantage is in their knowledge of the Turkish Super Lig where there is value to be found.

Malian midfielder Adama Traore will arrive when his contract ends with Hatayspor. Fenerbahce’s Iranian international striker Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, who spent the second half of last term on loan at Hull will also join, Ilicali confirmed.

Ilicali and City’s recruitment team are also conscious of the need to balance signings with a core who know the Championship. Successful teams must be carefully constructed, after all.

“We have to bring in good players. But for us, good players are useful players and not famous players,” Ilicali observed.

“We are going to make good transfers in the points which are needed. We are focused on the best options. These names will be very good players. But don’t expect us to bring very big names.

“When you look at the teams going for promotion, most are full of players who are not world-famous, but useful for the team. The idea is to do that and make this team a candidate for the Premier League.

“My (transfer) team is experienced. We are having good conversations with the ones we are expecting (to sign). Most of the players we are talking to believe in our project. It’s so important.

“I am not just going to bring in any player who just comes to take the money and play. I want them to come here and be part of our family and play with their hearts like our players do.

“We are not trying to convince players whose minds are in different places. All the players will come here with their hearts.”