EHAB ALLAM last night admitted Hull City’s perilous position in the Premier League is putting off prospective buyers.
The Tigers have been on the market for 1,014 days following a failure by the club’s hierarchy to re-brand as ‘Hull Tigers’.
City’s promotion back to the top flight last May prompted a flurry of interest from would-be purchasers and a £100m deal seemed to have been struck four months later with a Chinese consortium.
It subsequently collapsed amid suggestions the group had failed the FA’s fit and proper persons’ test.
Several other parties have since shown interest but vice-chairman Allam has broken his silence to reveal that chances of a deal going ahead while the Tigers are embroiled in a relegation scrap are slim.
“Everyone can see we are motivated to sell,” said Allam. “And everyone has been able to see potential buyers at the stadium.
“I presumed one deal was done, that is why I wrote those programme notes (for the home game with Manchester United on August 27, when he suggested it would be the Allam family’s final home game in charge). But, on the back of some poor results and being in the relegation zone, it is now less appealing for prospective purchasers.
“There are many factors (behind no sale being agreed) but being in the relegation zone definitely doesn’t help. My sole focus now is on staying up. We are in a survival fight and I can’t think of anything but that.
“The transfer window is key. Therefore, I can’t be distracted by anything else.”
Asked if this meant takeover talks were firmly on hold until the summer at the earliest, Allam replied: “I am not even thinking if it is on hold, just focusing on staying up. The right (transfer) deals for the manager have to be sorted out.
“I need to give Marco (Silva) what we need to stay up. I will not be distracted by anything else.”
Relegation would make a huge difference to City’s balance sheet, hence the reluctance of would-be purchasers to engage in further talks with a club that has spent the past three months in the bottom three.
Parachute payments of around £40m next season would help bridge some of the gap but with top-flight status worth a minimum £100m in broadcast income alone, it underlines the importance of Hull retaining their place among the elite.
The likelihood that the Allam family will remain in situ until at least the summer will displease those supporters who have made clear their desire for a change of ownership.
City’s failed attempts to re-brand followed by the implementation of an unpopular membership scheme sparked a boycott of the recent FA Cup tie against Swansea City, while it is a long time since a game passed without chants against the Allam family being aired.
Asked about the flack from fans in the stands, Allam, whose family no longer attend matches, said: “I have got used to it. We are not going to change it. We don’t respond or react because we know it won’t have any positive effect.
“If you thought people wanted to listen, you may look to engage. Some people listen to understand but others listen just to respond or react, meaning anything said is then falling on deaf ears. I don’t see any point in trying to engage with people who I don’t really think want to listen or understand.”
A host of interested parties have held negotiations over a possible sale in recent months, ranging from US businessman Peter Grieve through to Chien Lee, the owner of French club Nice, and the group, led by Chinese siblings Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li, behind the bid that prompted Ehab Allam to pen those ‘farewell’ programme notes for the Manchester United game.
All these talks fell by the wayside and vice-chairman Allam feels the protests from supporters have had a negative effect.
“Unfortunately, we are not presenting the football club in the best light when potential new owners are looking out at people protesting in front of them,” he added. “It is counter-productive.
“I had a meeting after one game attended by people interested in buying the club and the first question was: ‘What is the problem with the fans? Do they not like foreign owners?’
“They just assumed that was the reason. I know it isn’t. It is the name change and other things. But, first impressions last and that is what prospective owners have thought.
“I was born down the road from the stadium so I know foreign ownership is not the factor. But, unfortunately, when you are showcasing something that people want to buy and you get this kind of negativity, it can only reflect in a certain way.
“The reaction of fans in front of prospective buyers isn’t really making it appealing, nor is being in the relegation zone. So, we are where we are.”
Allam on transfers: Page 18