Hull City were last night completing formalities for the club record signing of Nikica Jelavic from Everton – hours after owner Assem Allam threatened to quit the club over his controversial application to change their name.
The deal for Jelavic is believed to be worth £6.5m with a further £1m due if the Tigers avoid relegation, eclipsing the club’s previous biggest outlay of £5.25m for Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone last year.
There could be more to follow with the Tigers also pursuing long-term transfer target Shane Long although it is understood West Brom have rejected the latest bid to lure him from The Hawthorns.
Despite his evident willingness to boost his club’s Premier League survival bid, Allam chose yesterday to reiterate his hard-line stance over his attempt to change the club’s name to Hull Tigers.
Allam warned he will be gone “within 24 hours” if his move does not receive widespread backing, saying: “No one on earth is allowed to question my business decisions. I won’t allow it. I can give you my CV to give you comfort, for what I do in business, what I have achieved, but for someone to come and question me is not allowed.
“I’m here to save the club and manage the club for the benefit of the community. It will never, never be the other way round – that the community manage it for me.
“But if the community say go away, I promise to go away within 24 hours.”
Allam added that the same would apply should his move to have the club’s name changed be rejected by the FA. He said: “Still the same thing. It’s a free country. No two ways about it. Have I ever said something and went back on it? No.”
Allam has clashed with supporters over the plans and caused controversy in November when he reacted angrily to lobbying from campaign group City Till We Die by retorting: “They can die as soon as they want.”
But Hull fans will have been placated by the imminent deal for Jelavic, who is being allowed to leave Goodison Park by Toffees boss Roberto Martinez in order to pursue his World Cup ambitions with Croatia.
Jelavic had fallen out of the first-team picture following the summer loan signing of Romelu Lukaku but still proved he has an eye for goal when he scored two goals in the 4-0 FA Cup win over QPR earlier this month.
Hull’s move for Long appears harder to finalise. He had been on the verge of joining the Tigers in September before a last-minute hitch in negotiations kept him at The Hawthorns, and the player reiterated this week that he is in no hurry to leave.