Mistakes of past will be heeded by Hull, insists jubilant Bruce

STEVE BRUCE insists the mistakes that almost brought about the financial meltdown of Hull City will not be repeated ahead of next season’s return to the Premier League.

Hull City's manager Steve Bruce celebrates in the stands

The Tigers clinched automatic promotion on a dramatic final day that saw Bruce’s side held to a 2-2 draw at home by Cardiff City only to be handed a reprieve by nearest rivals Watford suffering a shock defeat to Leeds United.

With the Hornets’ game at Vicarage Road not finishing until 10 minutes after the final whistle had blown at the KC Stadium due to a serious injury suffered by home goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, Hull faced an anxious wait before confirmation came through that Gianfranco Zola’s men had been beaten thanks to a late strike from Ross McCormack.

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It means the Tigers will kick off next season in the Premier League on August 17 and Bruce recognises he faces a busy summer of wheeling and dealing to get the Yorkshire club ready to take on the elite of English football.

However, the Hull manager is adamant there will be no repeat of five years ago – when promotion to the top flight was followed by a spending spree on wages and transfer fees that left the club with crippling debts of around £35m.

Bruce said: “We all know how hard it is for a team to get into the Premier League and then stay there. “We will make the best assault we can on the League, but I won’t be going down the route of sending the club close to oblivion.

“Without the chairman 
(Assem Allam) here, that is where this club would be. We would be a Portsmouth and the others that you read about when it comes to horror stories in football.”

But for the takeover by the Allam family in December 2010, Hull would more than likely have joined the ever-growing list of clubs who struggle to cope with the financial implications of being relegated from the Premier League.

The owners are believed to have pumped around £60m into the club since taking control and Bruce is insistent that lessons must be learned from the past.

He said: “We will think long and hard to make sure we spend wisely.

“We want to build the club up. We need to build the training ground and things like that.

“If people think we are going to start signing people for £15m, they are very mistaken. If you try to get a £15m player – and no disrespect to us – but they will have five or six clubs to choose from.

“And the only way to bring them here would be to pay huge, huge money in wages. I won’t do that to the chairman or the club.

“What we can do, though, is follow a Wigan or a West Brom. By that, I mean build the club into something better.

“Make it bigger and stronger and put Hull City in a really, really healthy shape.

“It is a fine line to get it right. If you give people big contracts, big wages and go down then you are lumbering your club.

“So, we won’t do anything silly.”

Thanks to the new Premier League television deal that kicks in next season, promotion is estimated to be worth around £120m to Hull even if they are relegated after just one year.

As welcome as that boost will be to the coffers, however, Bruce insists clinching a return to the elite goes far deeper for the local area.

He added: “I am delighted for the city and the supporters. I know how hard it can be here. Hull has the highest unemployment rate in the country so we have put a smile on people’s faces.

“Life is difficult, but they can have a beer now and think, ‘Hull City are in the Premier League’.

“As much as we will enjoy the celebrations, though, the hard work does start now. The task is now keeping the club in the Premier League.

“You lose more than you win up there, that’s for sure. And that means there will be a lot of disappointing Saturday nights.

“You have to win 10 games in the Premier League. That sounds easy but it isn’t. The gulf in the Premier League between the top six or seven and the rest is vast.

“We have also just seen two managers sacked who took a team up last year. Brian McDermott and Nigel Adkins both lost their jobs so that shows what can happen.”

Regardless of how next term unfolds, life in the Premier League is going to struggle, surely, to match the final acts of this season.

The 2-2 final scoreline against Cardiff does not even scratch the surface of the drama that unfolded as Nick Proschwitz missed a 93rd-minute penalty for Hull when the home side led.

The Bluebirds then raced up the other end and were awarded a penalty of their own, which was converted by Nicky Maynard to leave the Tigers sweating over the result at Watford.

Bruce added: “I didn’t see Nick take the penalty, but I knew there was a minute to go. But to then go down the other end – well, I thought I’d seen it all last week with Brentford and Doncaster (when Rovers clinched the title only 22 seconds after the home side had blown their own chance of promotion by missing a penalty).

“But I think that topped the lot for sheer nerve-wracking entertainment. Then, to have to wait 12 minutes or whatever it was for Watford to finish – it was absolute torture.

“I never thought I’d be supporting Leeds. There were people watching in the tunnel, others hiding in corridors and others just walking about. It was really incredible, but we got there in the end.”